Jib Acharya, E V Teijlingen, J Murphy, B Ellahi
Background: This study explores food beliefs among poor mothers related to feeding their offspring. Mothers’ misconception of a healthy diet is one of the major causes of nutritional problems in preschool-aged children in Nepal and these beliefs and attitudes can result in the inappropriate feeding of young children.
Objectives: The main objectives of this study were:
• identify major barriers for recommending healthy food that are associated with existing cultures, religions and ethnic divisions;
• assess the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about nutritious food amongst mothers;
• assess health-seeking behaviour for children of low socio-economic status.
Methods: Study used a qualitative focus group discussion. Fifty participants took part in seven focus groups to explore their food beliefs. The qualitative focus groups aimed to collect in-depth information around food beliefs and data were thematically analysed.
Results: The study identified six key themes: (a) poverty; (b) knowledge; (c) policy; (d) beliefs about breastfeeding; (e) food beliefs: and (f) health-seeking behaviours/cultural influences. Many participants thought that illiterate and underserved populations are generally exposed due to financial scarcity, poor knowledge and strongly rooted in cultural practices, and beliefs. This study found ‘diversified views’ as a major barrier to food and health-seeking behaviours. Some groups recognised the negative effects of existing beliefs and taboos. However, the spiritual healers highlighted the importance of linking beliefs with cultural and religious norms and values. They showed the complex relationships between food and health-seeking behaviours and food recommendations with financial status and the perceived cultural practices of society.
Conclusions: This study suggests that a public health approach is needed to address nutrition problems associated with behaviour and revealed major barriers which were associated with poverty, resources, and mothers’ education level.
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