Communities influence child nutrition in East Java, new research finds

The influence of communities – family members, friends and neighbours – over a child’s food intake and mothers’ fears of being judged, are affecting child nutrition in Indonesia.

This is one of the key findings of research into feeding practices in East Java, Indonesia, published by GAIN today. The case study  is being launched at a Social and Behaviour Change Communication conference in Washington DC.

The report, entitled Improving Childhood Nutrition by Changing Infant Feeding Practice in Sidoarjo, East-Java: A GAIN social behaviour change case study, found that that while mothers in Sidoarjo were aware of nutrition, their fears of being judged by their community, a lack of confidence and a lack of knowledge led to poor feeding practices.

The research was carried out in partnership with behaviour change researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Their insights were then used to develop an innovative program focused on changing behaviour linked to breastfeeding, complementary feeding and snacking.

Indonesia faces major nutritional challenges. Rates of childhood malnutrition are among the highest in the world. According to UNICEF, more than one third of children in the country are stunted – have a low height for their age.

The Social and Behaviour Change Communication conference aims to engage stakeholders in developing a research and implementation agenda and secure commitment to an action plan for nutrition around social and behaviour change communication.  The two day interactive event is the culmination of a year-long effort to move social and behaviour change communication to the top of the nutrition agenda in order to reach national and global targets on stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiency reductions, and slow the rapid increases in obesity and non-communicable diseases worldwide.

Behavior Change Consultant and conference facilitator, Helen Trevaskis, will welcome participants and then sequentially interview Elizabeth Fox of USAID, GAIN’s Executive Director, Marc Van Ameringen, and Carolyn Hart from SPRING.

Follow the event from 8am EST today using #SBCC4Nutrition.

Read our story about the influence that a community is having on childhood nutrition in  East Java, It takes a village to raise a child, on our Guardian partnerzone.