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J Nutr. 2013 Jul;143(7):1176-83. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.172247. Epub 2013 May 8.

Maternal and child dietary diversity are associated in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Ethiopia.

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  • 1International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Hanoi, Vietnam.


Dietary diversity (DD) reflects micronutrient adequacy of the diet and is associated with better child growth. Emerging evidence suggests that maternal and child DD are associated. This could have measurement and programmatic implications. Data on mother-child (6-24 mo) dyads in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Ethiopia were used to examine agreement and association between maternal and child DD and identify determinants of maternal and child DD. The DD scores were derived from a 24-h recall of intake of foods from 7 groups. Multivariable regression was used to examine for the association, adjusting for covariates at child, maternal, and household levels. There was mother/child agreement for staple foods across the 3 countries but disagreement for flesh foods, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. A strong positive association was seen between maternal and child DD; a difference of one food group in mother's consumption was associated with a difference of 0.29, 033, and 0.24 groups in child's consumption in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, respectively. The odds of achieving minimum DD (≥4 groups) were higher among children whose mother consumed 4 groups compared with ≤3 food groups [Bangladesh: OR = 2.73 (95% CI: 1.76, 4.25); Vietnam: OR = 2.30 (95% CI: 1.45, 3.43); Ethiopia: OR = 5.11 (95% CI: 2.36, 11.04)]. Maternal education was associated with both maternal and child DD; food security and socioeconomic status were associated only with maternal DD. Given the disagreements in mother/child intake for nutrient-rich foods, both maternal and child DD should be measured in surveys. Behavior change communications should focus on promoting both mother and child DD and encouraging mothers to feed young children all family foods, not just a subset.

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