Household food security and dietary micronutrient intake among mothers in Mwea West sub County, Kirinyaga County, Kenya

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Mugambi, Rahab Muthoni
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Household food security has been the subject of many studies, majority of them focusing on members of the household other than women. The purpose of this study was to investigate household’s food security status and dietary micronutrient intake. It targeted mothers. The study was carried out in dry and wet seasons in Kangai and Mutithi locations of Mwea West Sub County, Kenya. Data were collected on socio demographics/ economics characteristics of the mothers as well as their food access and consumption behaviors, dietary intake of Vitamin A, iron, and zinc and risk factors for micronutrients utilization. The study design was cross sectional survey while data collecting instruments included a structured questionnaire and a meal preparation observation guide. Sampling techniques included probability proportionate to population and random walk and quarter to select the respondents. Data were coded, edited and analyzed using SPSS software. The findings were presented in tables, bars and pie charts while inferential statistics were used to test hypotheses. Health Canada’s, Household Food Security Survey Model (HFSSM) was used to compute food security status; Food Consumption Score tool was used to compute acceptable , borderline and poor categories of dietary intake of micronutrients and National Nutrient Data base for Standard Reference, Release 26 Software v.1.4, to compute nutrient content in foods. The food access and consumption behaviors and the dietary intake of micronutrients were found to be significantly different in the two locations (p < 0.05). An analysis of foods prepared indicated that Kangai mothers had less deficit (iron -3.9 mg, zinc -1.8mg) than Mutithi ones (iron – 9.5mg, zinc -4.1 mg). On the whole, mothers did not meet the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for Vitamin A, iron and zinc, while food consumption score ( FCS ) tool showed that 33% (from Kangai) and 51% (from Mutithi) were categorized with poor dietary micronutrient intake . The study showed a significant difference in exposure to factors that impact on micronutrient utilization, between the two locations (p < 0.05). The conclusion was that mothers from Kangai had better socio economic status, were less food insecure, and had better dietary micro nutrient intake than the Mutithi ones, but were more exposed to risk factors for micronutrient utilization. The study concluded that 55% of Mutithi mothers were severely food insecure while 21% of Kangai ones were in similar category. On the whole, 39% of the study mothers were food secure, 21% were moderately insecure, while 40% were severely food insecure. The study concluded that mothers in the two studied locations experience chronic food insecurity and hence recommended interventions for the 40% of severely food insecure mothers through provision of clean drinking water, and facilitation with irrigation water to increase food production.
Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirement for the award of doctor of philosophy in the department of hospitality management, school of hospitality and tourism, Kenyatta University. January 2017