Determinants of micronutrient fortified blended food (Balbhog) consumption among children 6-35 months of age provided through the integrated child development services program in Gujarat, India


Context: The state of Gujarat had introduced Extruded Fortified Blended Food, Balbhog, as take-home ration for children 6–35 months of age. The study aimed to understand awareness, availability, and consumption pattern of Balbhog and gain insights on factors influencing its regular use.

Aims: This study aims to understand coverage and feeding practices of micronutrient fortified blended food (Balbhog) and determine factors for its regular use.

Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 1623 households with children of 6–35 months of age registered in Anganwadi centers was conducted in the four districts of Gujarat. Household and dietary survey were conducted to understand child care and feeding practices at household level.

Results: The results showed high awareness about Balbhog (88.6%) among caregivers, with majority reporting using it (81.7%) before. Regular Balbhog consumption (42.2%), however, declined considerably across all population characteristics. Monthly distribution of adequate Balbhog packets, taste of Balbhog preparations, meal frequency of children, and caregivers' participation in the monthly Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) event emerged as strong predictors of regular Balbhog consumption. No disparity in consumption was observed across socioeconomic characteristics of the population.

Conclusion: Household feeding practices and ICDS program factors mediated regular use of Balbhog among children. Improving availability of entitled Balbhog packets, raising awareness about Balbhog preparations, and improving child feeding practices could help in increasing Balbhog consumption in the community.

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