Exploration of Zulu mothers' choice of food for their children

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Faulds, Stuart (2005) Exploration of Zulu mothers' choice of food for their children. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


South Africa has a high incidence of childhood mortality and morbidity. More than fifty percent is attributed to mild and moderate malnutrition and the highest incidences occur in rural communities such as North Kwa Zulu Natal (NKZN). Despite recent South African government interventions, such as the Integrated Nutrition Programme, Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses and the introduction of Food Based Dietary Guidelines, malnutrition is still a severe problem. Nutritional research studies on children aged one to five years confirmed that malnutrition results from inadequate intake of nutrient and energy rich food. However, contextual influences on the mothers' food choices for their children had not been reported. The purpose of this study was to explore and understand, from the perspective of NKZN mothers, the influences on their choices of food for their children aged one to five years. A qualitative research design using a naturalistic approach was implemented. The strategies used for collecting data from eight mothers of children with identified nutrition related illnesses included interviews, observations and a focus group discussion. Indepth interviews and a focus group discussion were conducted to explore food choices from the mothers' perspectives. Further understanding of their food practices was gained by observing the broad features of each informant's home, living conditions, surrounding environment and various food preparation practices and resources. The data were analysed for common patterns of meaning and categories of influence in the mothers' choice of food. The influences on the mothers' food choice that emerged from the study included the geographic location of the informants in the form of isolation from shops, their living conditions, family income and seasonal availability of food. Social and cultural changes, such as declining numbers of adult males in each household and the shift from subsistence farming to the dependence on the cash economy, were substantial influences. Most importantly, limited knowledge of food value and of nutrition related illnesses influenced the choice of food that NKZN mothers provided to their children. This study discovered that despite the many problems confronted by NKZN mothers, they were enthusiastic in their request for knowledge to improve the health of their children, albeit requiring the assistance and cooperation from health care professionals and policy makers. Insight of the contextual influences will enable health care professionals and policy makers to develop appropriate programmes that assist NKZN mothers in the provision of energy and nutrient-rich food for their children.

Additional Information

Master of Nursing

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/18161
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1110 Nursing
Historical > FOR Classification > 1111 Nutrition and Dietetics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Keywords nutrition, malnutrition, children, cultural practices, South Africa, Zulu, choice of food, health education, nursing practice
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