Formulation and acceptability of local nutrient-dense foods for young children: A formative study for the Child Health, Agriculture and Integrated Nutrition (CHAIN) Trial in rural Zimbabwe

Dexter T. Chagwena, Shamiso Fernando, Naume V. Tavengwa, Shadreck Sithole, Chandiwana Nyachowe, Handrea Njovo, Kavita Datta, Tim Brown, Jean H. Humphrey, Andrew J. Prendergast, Laura E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stunting affects almost one-quarter of children globally, leading to reduced human capacity and increased long-term risk of chronic disease. Despite intensive infant and young child feeding (IYCF) interventions, many children do not meet their requirements for essential nutrients. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of implementing an IYCF intervention utilizing nutrient-dense powders from egg, biofortified sugar beans and Moringa oleifera leaf in rural Zimbabwe. A mixed-methods formative study was conducted comprising the following: (i) a recipe formulation trial, (ii) trials of improved practices to assess acceptability of the intervention, and (iii) a participatory message formulation process to develop counselling modules for the IYCF-plus intervention. Twenty-seven mother–baby pairs were recruited between November 2019 and April 2020. Key domains affecting IYCF practices that emerged were time, emotional and physical space, cultural and religious beliefs, indigenous knowledge systems and gender dynamics. Household observations and sensory evaluation indicated high acceptability of the new ingredients. Recipe formulation and participatory message formulation by participants instilled community ownership and served to demystify existing misconceptions about the new food products. Families noted the potential for intervention sustainability because the foods could be grown locally. Supplementing complementary foods with nutrient-dense local food ingredients as powders has the potential to sustainably address nutrient-gaps in the diets of young children living in rural lower- and middle-income countries. Comprehensive IYCF counselling utilizing a gender-lens approach, family support and indigenous knowledge systems or resources are key elements to support positive behaviour change in complementary feeding interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13605
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • child nutrition
  • complementary feeding
  • infant feeding behaviour
  • low income countries
  • nutrition education
  • qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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