Food for the Hungry Study Connects a Mother’s Worldview and Child Malnutrition

A Food for the Hungry study completed in April 2013 showed that mothers in Bolivia who believe that God wants all children to survive are about 15 times more likely to have a well-nourished child.

Phoenix, Ariz. (PRWEB) May 08, 2013

A Food for the Hungry (FH) study completed in April 2013 showed that mothers in Bolivia who believe that God wants all children to survive are about 15 times more likely to have a well-nourished child.

The privately funded study was carried out among poor Bolivian mothers from several provinces and included 94 children (12-59 months of age). The goal was to examine the relationship between gender and spiritual beliefs and outcomes and behavior—specifically in the area of maternal childcare practices.

Commenting on the study, Tom Davis, FH’s Chief Program Officer said, “We’ve seen consistent anecdotal evidence to support the influence of beliefs and worldview on behavior; however this study went to the next level to systematically discover the impact of beliefs and prioritize which beliefs are most associated with good childcare and outcomes.”

The idea that God wants all children to survive is based in Isaiah 65:20: “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days...” The study did not examine whether the mothers’ beliefs were generated from this biblical text, but rather if the mothers’ beliefs aligned with this text.

“Believing that God does not want all children to survive may make mothers less likely to take action to protect their children or treat their illnesses,” Davis said. “At this point, we want to be careful to say that this study has been ‘hypothesis generating’ rather than ‘hypothesis confirming,’ but we will continue to explore the significant findings with further studies in other FH areas of operation.”

FH has also seen the impact of mothers’ beliefs in Mozambique where an estimated 6,848 children’s lives were saved during a five-year, FH-led child survival project. One early project activity was to promote this belief with parents, emphasizing that “One day, no more children will die.” By the second year of project activities, 86 percent of the women interviewed using a random sample had adopted this belief. Through this program, under-nutrition in children under two years of age declined by 38 percent.

Speaking of FH’s program in Mozambique, Dr. Henry Perry, Senior Associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, said, “This is one of the world’s best examples so far of what can be achieved at low cost to improve the health of children in high-mortality, low-resource settings.”

Poor nutrition contributes to about one-third of child deaths globally. Progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing under-age-five mortality is lagging in many countries, particularly in Africa.

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Founded in 1971, Food for the Hungry provides emergency relief and long-term development programs with operations in more than 20 countries to help the world's most vulnerable people. Learn more by visiting http://www.fh.org. Social connections include facebook.com/foodforthehungry and twitter.com/food4thehungry.


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    Food for the Hungry
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