oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Nutritional status, complementary feeding practices and feasible strategies to promote nutrition in returnee children aged 6-23 months in northern Uganda : original research

Volume 25, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of underweight and wasting, feeding patterns, water use and sanitation patterns in children aged 6-23 months in returnee villages in northern Uganda, and then to identify feasible strategies to promote nutrition. Perceived understanding of the presentation and causes of undernutrition was also assessed.

This was a descriptive cross-sectional survey, carried out in May and June 2010.
The study was conducted in the districts of Agago and Pader in northern Uganda in 219 children aged 6-23 months.Outcome measures: Weight and mid-upper-arm circumference were determined for underweight and wasting, respectively. Focus group discussions were held with adults to determine perceived understanding, presentation and causes of undernutrition.
Over 11% of the children were wasted. Those aged 6-11 months were the most wasted. Eighteen per cent of them were underweight.Those aged 12-17 months had the highest prevalence of underweight. Eighty-three per cent of the children were still breastfeeding and 47% were exclusively breastfed. The largest proportion (38.8%) of children ate twice daily and 4.1% had not eaten any food on the day prior to the visit. The water usage rate was 13.3 litres/person/day. The majority (57.5%) of households did not have their own pit latrines and disposed of faeces in the bush (87%). Communities had good knowledge of causes of undernutrition, its consequences and the required practices to prevent and control it.
This assessment has informed the need for holistic approaches to address the challenge of undernutrition in children aged 6-23 months in returnee villages in northern Uganda. Interventions that target improvement in complementary feeding, particularly between the ages of 6-11 months, while also addressing pertinent issues of water and sanitation, hold the most potential to address the challenge.

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