Are Coping Strategies Used by Households During Times of Food Insecurity Associated with Nutritional Status for Children Under 5 in Lao PDR?
Broz, Jessica Lynn
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Objectives: To explore associations between frequency and type of coping strategies employed by households and nutritional status (stunting, wasting, underweight) for children under five. Study Design: Cross sectional study conducted in three southern provinces of Lao PDR. Methods: Study universe included 401 households which self-reported as being food insecure in the prior month. Food insecure households selected from the following five coping strategies (strategies were not mutually exclusive) used during times when there was inadequate food for the household: 1. Consumed less preferred, less expensive foods 2. Borrowed food, or help from friend/relative 3. Limited portion size at mealtimes 4. Restricted consumption by adults so small children could eat 5. Reduced number of meals eaten. A coping frequency index was created based on the frequency in which coping strategies were employed during acute food insecurity as follows: daily, 3-6 days a week, 1-2 days a week, less than once a week or never. The frequency coping score was plotted against nutritional outcomes. In addition to the coping index, a relative coping strategy score was calculate for each household to examine the relationship between type of coping strategy and nutritional outcomes. This relative coping score was plotted against nutritional outcomes. Results: Statistically significant (< .003) differences were observed between food secure and food insecure households in terms of age, residence, income, mother's education, underweight and stunted status. Statistically significant (< .003) differences were found between households that had low coping scores (<10) and high coping scores (>= 10) by income and stunting status. The correlation between nutritional status and both measures of coping: frequency and type of coping strategy was weak. Discussion: This report confirms that residence, income and mother's education are related to food security. Type of coping strategy did not show a relationship with stunting, wasting or underweight status. Frequency of coping showed a relationship with income and stunting. Interventions targeted at improving the nutritional status of children under five in Lao PDR should be broad and aim to influence the many determinants associated with undernutrition.
- Health services