Studying the nutritional beliefs and food practices of Malagasy school children parents. A contribution to the understanding of malnutrition in Madagascar.
Sommaire de l'article
Madagascar is severely affected by the problem of children malnutrition. The present study aimed at exploring school children Malagasy parents' food practices and belief structures about the nutritional value of foods, to better understand the causes of this malnutrition. A combination of Focus Groups (72 participants), and questionnaires (1000 interviewees) was used to evaluate the food beliefs and the nutritional habits of low incomes parents of school age children in urban and rural areas of Antananarivo and Antsiranana. The respondents' beliefs were shown to focus not only on the nutrient and energetic composition of food, but also to involve more general relations between food and health and particularly the sanitary properties of food. Compared with such sanitary properties, nutrient content was not considered to be the priority in food choice and food preparation. The food category considered to be the most nutritive was cereals, ahead of protein foods, or vegetables and fruit. Nutritional beliefs were not the same in the Antananarivo and Antsiranana areas, nor between urban and rural areas of Antsiranana. Different socio-economic contexts, food availability and information may explain these differences. This study could guide actors involved in nutrition promotion to adapt to specific areas their nutrition programmes in the fight against malnutrition.