Issue 3
Tuesday, 05 May 2020
Charles Darwin University
Emily Gibson works with fisher households in the Komodo district
Emily Gibson works with fisher households in the Komodo district

Women, infants vulnerable to micronutrient deficiency in Indonesia

By Leanne Miles

Research by Charles Darwin University PhD candidate Emily Gibson that addresses food and nutrition security in the households of Flores, eastern Indonesia, has found mothers and their infants are vulnerable to micronutrient deficiency.

“Fish are a highly nutritious food, providing protein as well as a range of micronutrients, which together are very important for the growth and development of infants and children, and health in adults,” Emily said.

“However, there are high levels of food insecurity in many low- and middle-income fish-producing countries; for example, in Indonesia 36% of children under five have stunted growth.”

The research published in PLOS ONE investigated the dietary diversity and fish consumption of mothers and their children in fisher households in three small communities in the Komodo district.

“We found that the dietary quality of women and children was poor, with both the mother and child meeting the dietary diversity threshold in only one-fifth of households,” she said.

“Daily family meals were dominated by rice, with side dishes of fish and leafy green vegetables when available.”

She said that fishers might keep some of the fish they caught to eat at home, or they might use money earned from fishing to purchase other foods.

“Some foods such as nutrient-dense fish were not introduced to the diets of young children until they approached 18 months or two years of age,” Emily said.

“However, both mothers and their children regularly snacked on processed foods and drinks, which were high in calories and sugar but lacked nutritional value. The dietary pattern identified means that women and children are vulnerable to micronutrient deficiency.”

She said the findings pointed to a need for more activities that addressed contributing factors.

“The dietary pattern results from numerous factors: irregular income from fishing activities limits people’s access to purchase nutrient-dense foods, few options for diversifying household income-generating activities, lack of availability of nutrient-dense foods within the communities, and knowledge and taboos about healthy foods,” she said.

“Culturally appropriate strategies are needed to increase the availability and consumption of nutrient-dense foods, increasing knowledge about healthy eating practices, and support the development of sustainable livelihood activities in remote communities.”

Read the paper here: W: //