Addressing child undernutrition in Tanzania with the ASTUTE program

Peer Reviewed Articles

Addressing child undernutrition in Tanzania with the ASTUTE program



Optimal infant and young child feeding practices (IYCFP) reduce childhood stunting and are associated with additional health benefits. In Tanzania, IYCFP are far from optimal where 32% of children under the age of 5 years are stunted. The purpose of this study was to examine whether behavior change communication focused on reducing child undernutrition was associated with improved IYCFP in Tanzania.


A cross-sectional survey was administered to approximately 10,000 households with children under the age of 2 at baseline and endline. Bivariate analyses and logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between exposure to behavior change communication and timely initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, continued breastfeeding at one year, timely complementary feeding (CF), minimum meal frequency (MMF), minimum dietary diversity (MDD), and minimum acceptable diet (MAD).


Mothers who heard a radio spot about IYCFP were more likely than mothers who had not heard a radio spot about IYCFP to begin complementary foods at six months. Their children were also more likely to achieve MMF, MDD, and MAD with odds ratios of 2.227 (p = 0.0061), 1.222 (p = 0.0454), 1.618 (p =  < .0001), and 1.511 (p = 0.0002), respectively. Mothers who saw a TV spot about IYCFP were more likely to have greater odds of knowing when to begin complementary feeding, feeding their child a minimally diverse diet (4 food groups or more), and serving a minimum acceptable diet with odds ratios of 1.335 (p = 0.0081),

1.360 (p = 0.0003), and 1.268 (p = 0.0156), respectively.


Exposure to behavior change communication in Tanzania was generally associated with some increased knowledge of optimal IYCFP as well as practicing IYCF behaviors. Behavior change communication planners and implementers may want to consider conducting similar campaigns as an important component of behavior change to reduce undernutrition and poor health outcomes in developing settings.

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