Deteriorating complementary feeding practices and dietary quality in Jordan: Trends and challenges


Quality complementary feeding (CF) of infants and young children is key to their growth and development. But in Jordan, providing appropriate CF remains a challenge. This study assesses trends in infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices, and consumption by infants and young children aged 6–23 months of breast milk substitutes (BMSs), sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and micronutrient-rich foods in Jordan from 1990 to 2017. We combined dietary data on infants and young children from six Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) (n = 14,880 children) to compute IYCF indicators. The latter included minimum dietary diversity (MDD), minimum meal frequency (MMF), and minimum acceptable diet (MAD), as well as intake of micronutrient-rich foods and food groups, specific SSBs, and infant formula. We conducted trend analyses using logistic regression models adjusted for child's age in month, child age squared, governorates, urban/rural residence, mother's educational attainment, and household wealth quintiles. We found that the proportion of consumption of micronutrient-rich food groups declined significantly between 1990 and 2017, with fewer infants and young children consuming eggs (OR = 0.39, p ≤ 0.001, 2002 reference), meat, poultry, and fish (OR = 0.25, p ≤ 0.001, 2002 reference), dairy (OR = 0.59, p ≤ 0.001, 2002 reference) and Vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables (OR = 0.66, p ≤ 0.001, 2002 reference). Conversely, there was increased use of BMSs and sugar-sweetened juices that paralleled a decline in the share of infants and young children meeting appropriate CF practices and consuming micronutrient-rich foods and food groups. By 2017, children aged 6–23 months were significantly less likely to meet MDD, MMF, and subsequently MAD; the odds of consuming BMSs were almost three times the reference (OR = 3.8, p ≤ 0.001, 1990 reference), as were the odds of consuming sugar sweetened juices  (OR = 3.63, p ≤ 0.001, 1990 reference). Food insecurity and undernutrition are low in Jordan; however, overweight and obesity rates are increasing concurrently as are micronutrient deficiencies. This highlights the need for policymakers to address factors at individual and household levels (behaviours and practices) as well as environmental issues (increasing access to unhealthy and ultraprocessed foods).

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