La Niña weather impacts dietary patterns and dietary diversity among children in the Peruvian Amazon

Ramya Ambikapathi, Margaret Kosek, Gwenyth O Lee, Maribel Paredes Olortegui, Benjamin Zaitchik, Pablo Penataro Yori, Aubrey Bauck, Laura E. Caulfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: In 2011-2012, severe El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions (La Niña) led to massive flooding and temporarily displacement in the Peruvian Amazon. Our aims were to examine the impact of this ENSO exposure on child diets, in particular: (1) frequency of food consumption patterns, (2) the amount of food consumed (g/d), (3) dietary diversity (DD), (4) consumption of donated foods, among children aged 9-36 months living in the outskirts of City of Iquitos in the Amazonian Peru. Design: This was a longitudinal study that used quantitative 24-h recall dietary data collection from children aged 9-36 months from 2010 to 2014 as part of the MAL-ED birth cohort study. Setting: Iquitos, Loreto, Peru. Participants: Two hundred and fifty-two mother-child dyads. Results: The frequency of grains, rice, dairy and sugar in meals reduced by 5-7 %, while the frequency of plantain in meals increased by 24 % after adjusting for covariates. ENSO exposure reduced girl's intake of plantains and sugar. Despite seasonal fluctuations in the availability of fruits, vegetables and fish, DD remained constant across seasons and as children aged. However, DD was significantly reduced under moderate La Niña conditions by 0·32 (P < 0·05) food groups. Adaptive social strategies such as consumption of donated foods were significantly higher among households with girls. Conclusions: This is the first empirical study to show differential effect of the ENSO on the dietary patterns of children, highlighting differences by gender. Public health nutrition programmes should be climate- and gender-sensitive in their efforts to safeguard the diets of vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3477-3487
Number of pages11
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Amazon
  • Children
  • Climate change
  • Diets
  • ENSO
  • Nutrition
  • Peru

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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