A behavior change communication intervention, but not livelihood interventions, improves diet diversity and animal-source food consumption among Ghanaian women
Background: Women of reproductive age (WRA), especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies driven largely by poor quality diets. Intervening into food value chains, on which many households in low- and middle-income countries depend for their livelihood, may be a promising approach to improving diets in these contexts.
Objective: In this pilot-scale randomized trial, we evaluated whether a multisectoral, food value chain intervention improved the diet diversity and the consumption of animal-source foods (ASFs) among WRA in Ghana.
Design: Twelve fish-smoking communities in two regions of Ghana with 296 eligible women were randomly assigned to one of three 9-month treatment arms: 1) behavior change communication (BCC) to promote improved diet quality through twice-weekly audio messages and bi-weekly peer-to-peer learning sessions; 2) BCC with microcredit to increase women’s incomes; or 3) BCC with provision of new smoke-oven technology. We assessed baseline-endline and between-treatment arm differences using a 10-food group diet diversity score (DDS), the Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W) indicator, and 7-day frequency of ASF consumption.
Results: Among 118 participants (39 in both treatment arm 1 and treatment arm 3, and 40 in treatment arm 2, with no participant refusals), DDS increased from a mean (SD) of 4.0 (1.3) at baseline to 5.1 (0.9) at endline (P-value < 0.0001). The proportion of women achieving the MDD-W indicator nearly doubled from baseline (35.6%) to endline (69.5%) (P-value < 0.0001). Frequency of ASF consumption similarly increased for meat and poultry (2.7 (4.1) to 4.7 (5.3); P-value < 0.0001) and eggs (1.5 (3.1) to 2.3 (4.9); P-value = 0.02). Few differences in these outcomes were observed among treatment arms.
Conclusions: A BCC intervention improved diet diversity and consumption of ASFs among participants. However, neither a group-based microcredit nor improved smoke oven intervention, both of which increased women’s income, led to additional dietary improvements.
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