Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

How Can We Improve the Consumption of a Nutritionally-Balanced Maternal Diet in Rural Bangladesh? The Key Elements of the ‘Balanced Plate’ Intervention

Version 1 : Received: 8 July 2020 / Approved: 9 July 2020 / Online: 9 July 2020 (16:15:13 CEST)

How to cite: Alam, A.; Chowdhury, M.; Dibley, M.J.; Raynes-Greenow, C. How Can We Improve the Consumption of a Nutritionally-Balanced Maternal Diet in Rural Bangladesh? The Key Elements of the ‘Balanced Plate’ Intervention. Preprints 2020, 2020070197 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202007.0197.v1). Alam, A.; Chowdhury, M.; Dibley, M.J.; Raynes-Greenow, C. How Can We Improve the Consumption of a Nutritionally-Balanced Maternal Diet in Rural Bangladesh? The Key Elements of the ‘Balanced Plate’ Intervention. Preprints 2020, 2020070197 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202007.0197.v1).

Abstract

Social, cultural, environmental and economic factors closely regulate the selection, allocation and consumption of maternal diets. We developed a nutrition behaviour change intervention to promote a balanced diet in pregnancy through practical demonstration in rural Bangladesh and tested the impact with a cluster randomised controlled trial. This paper presents the findings of the process evaluation and describes the strategies that worked for intervention compliance. We conducted in-depth interviews with pregnant women, women who birthed recently, and their husbands; focus groups with mothers and mothers-in-law; key-informant interviews with community health workers, and observation of home visits. We identified six key areas within the intervention strategy that played a crucial role in achieving the desired adherence. These included practical demonstration of portion sizes; addressing local food perceptions; demystifying animal-source foods; engaging husbands and mothers-in-law; leveraging women’s social networks; and harnessing community health workers’ social role. Practical demonstration, opportunity to participate and convenience of making of the plate with the food available in their kitchen or neighbours’ kitchen were the most commonly mentioned reasons for acceptance of the intervention by the women and their families. The balanced plate intervention helped women through practical demonstration to learn about a balanced meal by highlighting appropriate portion sizes and food diversity. The women needed active involvement of community health workers in mobilising social support to create an enabling environment essential to bring changes in dietary behaviours. Programs to promote a nutritious maternal diet should focus on encouraging the use of healthy foods through practical demonstration of portion sizes and engagement of the women and family instead of replicating the traditional information-based counselling.

Subject Areas

Maternal diet; Dietary behaviour change intervention; Nutrition education; Balanced plate; Qualitative methods

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