Effect of Nutrition Intervention on Indices of Growth in Day Care Centers of the City of Birjand, Iran
Background: Childhood malnutrition is the main risk factor for impaired mental and physical growth and several diseases and leads to premature death worldwide. Therefore, reducing childhood malnutrition is a top priority in most countries. In this regard, several studies have explored the effects of nutritional intervention on reducing childhood malnutrition, although mostly in controlled conditions and with small sample sizes. Data on community-based interventions are limited. In this study, we investigated the effects of providing hot meals at lunchtime on the growth of children in day care centers in rural areas of the city of Birjand, Iran.
Methods: This was a quasi-experimental study. Hot meals were offered for 6 months to all the children (n = 1809) in day care centers of rural Birjand. Height and weight of the children were measured before and after the intervention. Z-score indicators were calculated using WHO Anthro and Anthro plus software packages. SPSS was used for data analyses.
Results: Prevalence of wasting and stunting decreased after the intervention in both sexes. The decrease in stunting prevalence was significantly greater in boys than in girls. However, proportions of various categories of height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) did not change significantly in either sex. In both sexes, weight, height, body mass index, and weight-for-age improved significantly after the intervention. The prevalence of obesity and overweight did not change after the intervention.
Conclusion: Based on the findings, providing hot food at lunchtime in day care centers can reduce wasting and stunting in children in rural regions of Birjand, Iran.