Nutrition education improves growth in rural China

April 2010

An article in the April 2010 issue of Public Health Nutrition presents findings from a randomized controlled trail of an education intervention designed to improve complementary feeding practices in China. Children ages 2 to 4 months in four intervention villages, each matched to a control village, were assigned to receive a set of interventions that included (1) group training on food selection, preparation, and hygiene, childhood nutrition and growth, and responsive feeding; (2) cooking demonstrations on preparation of enhanced complementary foods; (3) provision of printed materials with feeding guidance and complementary food preparation methods; and (4) home visits every three months to identify feeding problems and provide individualized counseling. The intervention was designed based on extensive formative research, including assessment of local infant feeding patterns and ingredients and methods of complementary food preparation. Family members and community leaders were included in group training sessions, and all interventions were conducted by local health providers. Results showed that children ages 6, 9, and 12 months in the intervention villages ate more meals each day and were more likely to eat important non-staple foods, including meats, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, cooking oils, and beans. In addition, children in the intervention group gained significantly more weight and length and experienced faster growth velocity for both. These results provide further evidence that well-designed and implemented educational interventions can improve complementary feeding and growth in low-income but food-secure populations.

Effectiveness of an educational intervention on complementary feeding practices and growth in rural China: a cluster randomised controlled trial