LENA MARGARETA DAVIDSSON1, THOMAS RANDOLPH2, RICHARD HURRELL1
1Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Swiss Centre for International Agriculture (ZIL), Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Switzerland
2International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Livestock & Human Health, Kenya
This interdisciplinary study has two major components; human nutrition and agricultural economics. The overall objective of this study is to evaluate the importance of animal source foods (ASF: milk products, eggs, meat, liver) as sources of energy, high quality protein and bioavailable micronutrients in young children consuming complementary foods in resource poor areas. The possible link between livestock keeping and nutrition during early life will be evaluated by including children from urban/periurban/rural households, stratified by livestock keeping (none, small livestock, dairy cows). Apparently healthy young children will be recruited into the study at 6 months of age, i.e., at the age when complementary foods should be introduced into the diet according to WHO recommendations. Detailed information about dietary intake and, in particular, on the introduction and consumption of ASF:s will be collected every two months during one year. In parallel, nutritional status, evaluated as growth (linear and ponderal) and morbidity (incidence and duration) will be monitored. Information about agro-economic factors (livestock keeping, income sources, own consumption of ASF versus market sales, expenditures etc.) will also be collected for each family every two months. A blood sample will be drawn at the end of the study to evaluate micronutrient status. The study will be implemented in Ethiopia.
The longitudinal study design and large sample size (about 600 children) of this study will provide an excellent opportunity to generate solid information on the importance of ASF:s and the impact of livestock keeping and the pathways by which it operateson nutritional status in young children in resource-poor areas. If, as expected, the key role of ASF:s in child nutrition is confirmed, the study results will provide the basis for subsequent intervention studies to determine the appropriate types, amounts, and frequencies of ASF:s to recommend as part of nutritional extension messages in Ethiopia. By describing the links between livestock keeping and child nutrition outcomes, the results will also aid in identifying potential livestock-based interventions to support improved child nutrition.
Keywords: Agricultural economics, animal source foods, Ethiopia, human nutrition, infants and young children, livestock keeping, micronutrients, periurban, urban