Determinants of dietary diversity among women of reproductive age in two different agro-ecological zones of Rongai Sub-County, Nakuru, Kenya

  • Maureen Wanjiru Gitagia
  • Rose Chepchirchir Ramkat
  • Dorothy M Mituki
  • Celine Termote
  • Namukolo Covic
  • Maureen Jepkorir Cheserek
Keywords: Agro-biodiversity, Agro-ecological zones, Women’s Dietary diversity, Determinants, Rural Kenya


Background:  Empirical evidence on the link between agro-biodiversity and dietary diversity appears to be inconclusive. Thus, arises a need to determine other factors that could significantly influence dietary diversity in different agro-ecological zones as factors may vary from region to region.

Objective: This study assessed the determinants of dietary diversity (DD) among women of reproductive age in two different agro-ecological zones of Rongai Sub-County in Kenya; with agrobiodiversity being the main independent predictor.

Design: A cross-sectional study targeting 400 women aged 18-49 years was conducted. Agro-biodiversity was measured using Shannon-Wiener index, species richness/count and production diversity score. A 24-hour dietary recall was used to determine minimum dietary diversity for women (MDD-W) of reproductive age.

Results: Although the level of agrobiodiversity was different between the low and high agro-ecological zones (using Shannon-Wiener index); the women dietary diversity was not different (P>0.05) between low (3.78 ± 0.99) and high potential areas (3.84 ± 1.05). In multivariate logistic regression, there was no association (P>0.05) between agro-biodiversity indicators and dietary diversity across the two agricultural zones. Other factors influenced dietary diversity and varied across the two agro-ecological zones. In low potential areas, women education level positively influenced dietary diversity while in high potential areas household gender, women education level, woman’s age and household size influenced MDD-W.

Conclusion: This paper informs that factors other than agrobiodiversity influenced dietary diversity among women of reproductive age and these determinants varied across the agro-ecological zones. Therefore, it is recommended that nutrition interventions focusing on lessening malnutrition and improving dietary quality should pay special attention to differences in agro-ecological zones to develop region specific interventions instead of generalized interventions.


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Frison EA, Cherfas J, Hodgkin T. Agricultural biodiversity is essential for a sustainable improvement in food and nutrition security. Sustainability. 2011; 3(1): 238–53. doi: 10.3390/su3010238

  2. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Biodiversity and Agriculture: Safeguarding Biodiversity and Securing Food for the World. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity World Trade Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; 2008.

  3. The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, CGRFA, Second Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy; 2010.

  4. Bioversity International. Bioversity International Nutrition Strategy 2011–2021. Resilient food and nutrition systems: analyzing the role of agricultural biodiversity in enhancing human nutrition and health. Rome, Italy: Bioversity International; 2011.

  5. Ekesa BN, Walingo MK, Abukutsa-Onyango MO. Influence of agricultural biodiversity on dietary diversity of preschool children in Matungu division, Western Kenya. AJfand 2008; 8(4): 390–404.

  6. Ruel MT. Operationalizing dietary diversity: a review of measurement issues and research priorities. J Nutr 2003; 133(11): 3911S–26S. doi:10.1093/jn/133.11.3911S

  7. Waswa LM, Jordan I, Herrmann J, Krawinkel MB, Keding GB. Community-based educational intervention improved the diversity of complementary diets in western Kenya: results from a randomized controlled trial. Public Health Nutr 2015; 18(18): 3406–19. doi:10.1017/S1368980015000920

  8. Arimond M, Wiesmann D, Becquey E, Carriquiry A, Daniels MC, Deitchler M, et al. Simple Food Group Diversity Indicators Predict Micronutrient Adequacy of Women's Diets in 5 Diverse, Resource-Poor Settings. J Nutr 2010; 140(11): 2059S–69S.

  9. Kennedy GL. Evaluation of dietary diversity scores for assessment of micronutrient intake and food security in developing countries. Wageningen University, Netherlands; 2009.

  10. Torheim LE, Ouattara F, Diarra MM, Thiam FD, Barikmo I, Hatløy A, et al. Nutrient adequacy and dietary diversity in rural Mali: association and determinants. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004; 58(4): 594.

  11. Henjum S, Torheim LE, Thorne-Lyman AL, Chandyo R, Fawzi WW, Shrestha PS, et al. Low dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy among lactating women in a peri-urban area of Nepal. Public Health Nutr 2015; 18(17): 3201–10.

  12. Headey D, Ecker O. Rethinking the measurement of food security: from first principles to best practice. Food Secur 2013, 5: 327–343. doi:10.1007%2Fs12571-013-0253-0

  13. Moursi MM, Arimond M, Dewey KG, Trèche S, Ruel MT, Delpeuch F. Dietary diversity is a good predictor of the micronutrient density of the diet of 6-to 23-month-old children in Madagascar. J Nutr 2008; 138(12): 2448–53. doi:10.3945/jn.108.093971

  14. WHO. World Health Statistics. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2012.

  15. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and ICF Macro. Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014–2015. Calverton, MD: KNBS and ICF Macro; 2015.

  16. Ministry of Public Health Services (MoPHs), Kenya, & Save the Children UK. Report on Nutrition Situation in Kenya. Ministry of Health (MoH), Nairobi, Kenya; 2011.

  17. Lim SS, Vos T, Flaxman AD, Danaei G, Shibuya K, Adair-Rohani H, et al. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet 2012; 380(9859): 2224–60. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61766-8

  18. Popkin BM, Slining MM. New dynamics in global obesity facing low and middle income countries. Obes Rev 2013; 14(S2): 11–20. doi:10.1111%2Fobr.12102

  19. Azizi F, Smyth P. Breastfeeding and maternal and infant iodine nutrition. Clin Endocrinol 2009; 70(5): 803–9.

  20. Dawodu A, Tsang RC. Maternal Vitamin D Status: effect on milk Vitamin D content and Vitamin D status of breastfeeding infants. Adv Nutr 2012; 3(3): 353–61.

  21. Allen LH. B vitamins in breast milk: relative importance of maternal status and intake, and effects on infant status and function. Adv Nutr 2012; 3(3): 362–9.

  22. Jones AD, Shrinivas A, Bezner-Kerr R. Farm production diversity is associated with greater household dietary diversity in Malawi: findings from nationally representative data. Food Policy 2014; 46: 1–2. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.02.001

  23. Powell B, Thilsted SH, Ickowitz A, Termote C, Sunderland T, Herforth A. Improving diets with wild and cultivated biodiversity from across the landscape. Food Secur 2015; 7(3): 535–54. doi:10.1007/s12571-015-0466-5

  24. Saaka M, Osman SM, Hoeschle-Zeledon I. Relationship between agricultural biodiversity and dietary diversity of children aged 6–36 months in rural areas of Northern Ghana. Food Nutr Res 2017; 61(1): 1391668.

  25. Bharucha Z, Pretty J. The roles and values of wild foods in agricultural systems. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2010; 365(1554): 2913–26. doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0123

  26. Herforth A. Promotion of traditional African vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania: a case study of an intervention representing emerging imperatives in global nutrition. Cornell University, New York; 2010.

  27. Keding GB, Msuya JM, Maass BL, Krawinkel MB. Relating dietary diversity and food variety scores to vegetable production and socio-economic status of women in rural Tanzania. Food Sec 2012; 4(1): 129–40. doi:10.1007/s12571-011-0163-y

  28. M'Kaibi FK, Steyn NP, Ochola SA, Du Plessis L. The relationship between agricultural biodiversity, dietary diversity, household food security, and stunting of children in rural Kenya. Food Sci Nutr 2017; 5(2): 243–54. doi:10.1002/fsn3.387

  29. Termote C, Meyi MB, Djailo BD, Huybregts L, Lachat C, Kolsteren P, et al. A biodiverse rich environment does not contribute to a better diet: a case study from DR Congo. PloS One 2012; 7(1): e30533. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030533

  30. Ng’endo M, Bhagwat S, Keding GB. Influence of seasonal on-farm diversity on dietary diversity: a case study of smallholder farming households in western Kenya. Ecol Food Nutr 2016; 55(5): 403–27. doi:10.1080/03670244.2016.1200037

  31. Jaetzold R, Schmidt H, Hornetz B, Shisanya C. Ministry of Agriculture Farm Management Handbook of Kenya VOL. II-Part C Subpart C1. Nairobi, Kenya: Ministry of Agriculture; 2006.

  32. Nakuru County Integrated Development Plan. Nakuru County first Integrated Development Plan (2013–2017). Republic of Kenya, Nakuru County Government, Nakuru; 2013.

  33. Fischer AA, Laing JE, Stockel JE, Townsend JW. Handbook for family planning operations research design. Population Council, New York; 1991.

  34. FAO and FHI 360. Minimum dietary diversity for women: a guide for measurement. Rome: FAO; 2016.

  35. Magurran AE, McGill BJ. Biological diversity: frontiers in measurement and assessment. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2011.

  36. McArt SH, Cook-Patton SC, Thaler JS. Relationships between arthropod richness, evenness, and diversity are altered by complementarity among plant genotypes. Oecologia 2012; 168(4): 1013–21. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2150-6

  37. Sibhatu KT, Krishna VV, Qaim M. Production diversity and dietary diversity in smallholder farm households. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015; 112(34): 10657–62. doi:10.1073/pnas.1510982112

  38. Koppmair S, Kassie M, Qaim M. Farm production, market access and dietary diversity in Malawi. Public Health Nutr 2017; 20(2): 32535. doi:10.1017%2FS1368980016002135

  39. Malapit HJ, Kadiyala S, Quisumbing AR, Cunningham K, Tyagi P. Women’s empowerment mitigates the negative effects of low production diversity on maternal and child nutrition in Nepal. J Dev Stud 2015; 51(8): 1097–123. doi:10.1080/00220388.2015.1018904

  40. Gibson RS, Ferguson EL. An interactive 24-hour recall for assessing the adequacy of iron and zinc intakes in developing countries. Washington, DC: IFPRI and CIAT; 2008.

  41. FAO & FANTA. Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women (MDD-W) Global Dietary Diversity Indicator for Women. Washington, DC; 2014.

  42. Kutner MH, Nachtsheim CS, Neter J. Applied linear regression models, fourth ed. McGraw-Hill Irwin.

  43. Frison EA, Smith IF, Johns T, Cherfas J, Eyzaguirre PB. Agricultural biodiversity, nutrition, and health: making a difference to hunger and nutrition in the developing world. Food Nutr Bull 2006; 27(2): 167–79.

  44. Labadarios D, Steyn NP, Nel J. How diverse is the diet of adult South Africans? J Nutr 2011; 10(1): 33. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-33

  45. Taruvinga A, Muchenje V, Mushunje A. Determinants of rural household dietary diversity: the case of Amatole and Nyandeni districts, South Africa. Int J Dev Sustain 2013; 2(4): 2233–47.

  46. Black RE, Victora CG, Walker SP, Bhutta ZA, Christian P, De Onis M, et al. Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet 2013; 382(9890): 427–51.

  47. Ruel MT, Alderman H, Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes: how can they help to accelerate progress in improving maternal and child nutrition?. Lancet 2013; 382(9891): 536–51.

  48. Mbwana HA, Kinabo J, Lambert C, Biesalski HK. Determinants of household dietary practices in rural Tanzania: implications for nutrition interventions. Cogent Food Agric 2016; 2(1): 1224046. doi:10.1080/23311932.2016.1224046

  49. Morseth MS, Grewal NK, Kaasa IS, Hatloy A, Barikmo I, Henjum S. Dietary diversity is related to socioeconomic status among adult Saharawi refugees living in Algeria. BMC Public Health 2017; 17(1): 621. doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4527-x

  50. Ashraf D, Farah I. Education and women’s empowerment: Re-examining the relationship. Education, gender and empowerment: Perspectives from South Asia. 2007; 15: 15–31.

  51. Van den Bold M, Quisumbing AR, Gillespie S. Women s Empowerment and Nutrition: An Evidence Review. Int Food Policy Res Inst; 2013; 1294: 1–61.

  52. Haidar J, Kogi-Makau W. Gender differences in the household-headship and nutritional status of pre-school children. East Afr Med J 2009; 86(2): 69–73. doi: 10.4314/eamj.v86i2.46936

  53. Remans R, Flynn DF, DeClerck F, Diru W, Fanzo J, Gaynor K, et al. Assessing nutritional diversity of cropping systems in African villages. PLoS One 2011; 6(6): e21235.

  54. Gonder CE. Is subsistence enough? Examining the impact of household farm biodiversity on dietary diversity in Bukidnon, Philippines. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; 2011.

  55. Kumar N, Harris J, Rawat R. If they grow it, will they eat and grow? Evidence from Zambia on agricultural diversity and child undernutrition. J Dev Stud 2015; 51(8): 1060–77.

  56. Bellon MR, Ntandou-Bouzitou GD, Caracciolo F. On-farm diversity and market participation are positively associated with dietary diversity of rural mothers in Southern Benin, West Africa. PloS One 2016; 11(9): e0162535. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162535

  57. Jones AD. Critical review of the emerging research evidence on agricultural biodiversity, diet diversity, and nutritional status in low-and middle-income countries. Nutr Rev 2017; 75(10): 769–82.

  58. Leavy J, Poulton C. Commercialisations in agriculture. Ethiop J Econ 2007; 16(1): 1–37. doi:10.4314/eje.v16i1.39822

  59. Mathur A. Women and food security: a comparison of South Asia and Southeast Asia. S Asian Survey 2011; 18(2): 181–206.

  60. Asian Development Bank. Gender equality and food security—women’s empowerment as a tool against hunger Mandaluyong City, Philippines: Asian Development Bank; 2013.

  61. Fikree FF, Pasha O. Role of gender in health disparity: the South Asian context. BMJ: Brit Med J 2004; 328(7443): 823.

  62. Ayesha B, Human development, disparity and vulnerability: women in South Asia. United National Development Report, Bangladesh; 2016.

  63. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Strategy for Improved Nutrition of Children and Women in Developing Countries. UNICEF Policy Review E/ICEF/1990/L.6. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund; 1990.

How to Cite
Gitagia M. W., Ramkat R. C., Mituki D. M., Termote C., Covic N., & Cheserek M. J. (2019). Determinants of dietary diversity among women of reproductive age in two different agro-ecological zones of Rongai Sub-County, Nakuru, Kenya. Food & Nutrition Research, 63.
Original Articles