Cultural Factors Affect Nutrition in Toddlers

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Source: Hello Sehat

Toddlers with poor nutritional are still a global problem today. According to UNICEF in 2012, 99 million toddlers were still lack of nutrition, 51 million toddlers were underweight, and 44 million toddlers were overweight. In Indonesia, according to 2013 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) the underweight child prevalence to under-five children was 19.6%. While the incidence of malnutrition in Madurese who live in coastal areas reaches 20.9%.

Nutrition problems in toddlers have a serious impact on the child’s growth and development problems. Toddlers with malnutrition tend to have weak immune systems and are easily sick, so they do not get enough stimulation needed in their golden period.

Efforts to deal with nutrition problems in children have been implemented by the government. However, children with poor nutritional status are still found. It cannot be separated from the influence of environmental factors and inappropriate feeding practices for toddlers.

The practice of feeding toddlers is closely related to the habits in the society for generations or the culture applied. Cultural factors in certain community environments will influence how people respond to their daily health needs, including how to apply feeding patterns to their toddlers. It is in accordance with the theory of culture-based or transcultural nursing that states that culture, values, beliefs, will affect one’s health behavior.

Mothers have an important role in parenting and providing food for their children. The mother’s daily habits in child care often refer to the culture of the community where the mother lives. One example of a habit still found is “lotek” feeding or feeding mashed rice and bananas to babies prematurely and assuming that obese children are healthy children.

Community tradition regarding improper nutrition fulfillment can be fatal for infants and children.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) state that more than 50 percent of under-five child deaths were due to malnutrition, and two-thirds are related to improper feeding practices. Cultural aspects have a major contribution in infant feeding practices. Thus, it is important to explore culture-based factors that influence feeding practices in infants.

Madurese Toddler in Coastal Areas of Surabaya

The population in this study are Madurese mothers who live in the coastal areas of Surabaya with toddlers. The culture-based factors measured in this study are educational factors and cultural values. The education factor consists of the latest education and mother’s knowledge, while the cultural factor consists of the belief in the fulfillment of proper nutrition, lifestyle, and norms in society. The researcher obtained respondent data from the integrated service post for mother and child (posyandu), then the researcher visited each respondent’s home to give a research questionnaire.

Factors of cultural value based on the results of this study affect how the practice of mother feeding in infants, especially in aspects of beliefs and lifestyle related to culture, while community norms do not affect the practice of mother in feeding infants.

Beliefs upheld hereditarily in the community have an impact on toddler feeding. Most of the respondents with malnourished children in this study still hold improper beliefs in feeding toddlers.

In addition to public belief, lifestyle also contributes to the practice of toddler feeding according to the results of this study. Lifestyle is the application of the feeding culture existing in people in coastal area.

Mothers with incorrect lifestyle, according to the research, tend to apply the incorrect feeding habits such as applying lotek feeding and letting the toddler consume food with less appropriate nutrient content.

The culture influences beliefs and shapes one’s lifestyle, which then control a person’s behavior and habit. Thus, health education focused on the cultural aspects of the people who live in coastal areas is needed. (*)

Author: Praba Diyan Rachmawati

Details of this research can be viewed in our work at:

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