Small-Scale Livestock Production in Nepal Is Directly Associated with Children’s Increased Intakes of Eggs and Dairy, But Not Meat

Abstract: Animal source foods (ASF) provide nutrients essential to child growth and development yet remain infrequently consumed in rural Nepal. Agriculture and nutrition programs aim to increase ASF intake among children through small-scale animal husbandry projects. The relationship between livestock ownership and children’s consumption of ASF, however, is not well established. This study examined associations between livestock ownership and the frequency with which Nepali children consume eggs, dairy, and meat. We analyzed longitudinal 7-day food frequency data from sentinel surveillance sites of the Policy and Science of Health, Agriculture and Nutrition (PoSHAN) study. Data consisted of surveys from 485 Nepali farming households conducted twice per year for two years (a total of 1449 surveys). We used negative binomial regression analysis to examine the association between the number of cattle, poultry, and meat animals (small livestock) owned and children’s weekly dairy, egg, and meat intakes, respectively, adjusting for household expenditure on each food type, mother’s education level, caste/ethnicity, agroecological region, season, and child age and sex. We calculated predicted marginal values based on model estimates. Children consumed dairy 1.4 (95% CI 1.1–2.0), 2.3 (1.7–3.0) and 3.0 (2.1–4.2) more times per week in households owning 1, 2–4 and >4 cattle, respectively, compared to children in households without cattle. Children consumed eggs 2.8 (2.1–3.7) more times per week in households owning 1 or 2 chickens compared to children in households without chickens. Child intake of meat was higher only in households owning more than seven meat animals. Children’s intakes of dairy, eggs, and meat rose with household expenditure on these foods. Small-scale animal production may be an effective strategy for increasing children’s consumption of eggs and dairy, but not meat. Increasing household ability to access ASF via purchasing appears to be an important approach for raising children’s intakes of all three food types.

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