Minimum Diet Diversity and Minimum Meal Frequency – Do They Matter Equally? Understanding IYCF Practices in India
Current Developments in Nutrition
Objectives Infant and Young Child Feeding practices, mainly, complementary feeding in children between 6 months and two years of age, is found to be sub-optimal and emerge as the weakest link in improving child nutrition outcomes in India. Minimum Acceptable Diet (MAD), comprising of two sub-indicator – Minimum Dietary Diversity (MDD) and Minimum Meal Frequency (MMF), serves as an essential indicator to understand the diet adequacy pattern in children. The objective of this study was thus to
... estigate the role of MDD-MMF dyad in influencing the nutritional outcomes in children and its pattern across regions in India. Methods Data was obtained from the National Family Health Survey – 4 (NFHS-4) from the DHS Program website. The prevalence of MMF and MDD was calculated for 640 districts in India. The MMF and MDD were classified into three categories - high, medium and low based on equal percentile distribution of their prevalence range. Districts with high MMF and high MDD formed one cohort. Similarly, eight other cohorts were created based on their performance on MMF and MDD indicator. The prevalence of Stunting (St), Wasting (Wa) and Underweight (Uw) in children between 6 months and two years of age was then calculated for each of the nine cohorts. The districts were also mapped based on their cohort category to study the variation across regions in India. Results All three anthropometric indicators – stunting, wasting and underweight showed significant decline moving across low MMF- low MDD cohort (40% St; 26.2% Wa; 37.1% Uw) to medium MMF – medium MDD cohort (38.6% St; 23.8% Wa; 35.4% Uw) to high MMF – high MDD cohort (29% St; 15.5% Wa; 19.2% Uw). Second, the importance of minimum dietary diversity in improving nutritional outcomes was revealed, as opposed to minimum meal frequency, which shows improvement only when it reaches a certain threshold. Third, mapping revealed sharp differences across various regions in MMF-MDD pattern, especially in the states like Odisha, Assam and Andhra Pradesh. States in the central region performed poorly on complementary feeding indicators, specifically diet diversity. Conclusions The study highlights the importance of optimal complementary feeding practices in improving nutrition outcomes and the need to consider the regional heterogeneities while promoting IYCF practices in India. Funding Sources None.