Purpose To gather baseline data for a longitudinal study to determine whether participation in a fair trade economic intervention increases household socioeconomic status and has an impact on nutrition status in children less than 5 years of age.
Methods All data were collected via door-to-door interviews in 5 communities in Southern Honduras. A household questionnaire was administered to each family with children less than 5 years of age, and a child survey was conducted for each individual child. Involvement with a fair trade intervention was determined in the household survey via participation with a local cashew cooperative known as APDP. Nutritional status was evaluated by measures of weight-for-height (wasting), height-for-age (stunting), and weight-for-age (underweight). These indices were analyzed using the Z-score method and were presented as standard deviations from the median of the 2002 CDC reference population. Socioeconomic status in this study was defined as assets. Household assets were assigned a factor score; families were then ranked based on the total asset score of their household.
Results A total of 335 children were studied, with 199 households surveyed. Our data displayed 136 out of 335 children were stunted, 102 out of 335 were underweight, and 19 out of 335 were wasted There was a significant relationship (p-value = .05) between APDP participation and number of children stunted. There was no significant difference between genders. Other factors found to be significant indicators of malnourishment included breastfeeding greater than 1 year of age, which was associated with an increased percentage of wasting, and increased Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccine compliance, which was related to a decreased rate of stunting.
Conclusion Chronic childhood malnutrition was decreased in households involved with APDP fair trade interventions. While a cause and effect relationship cannot be determined in a cross-sectional study such as this one, this suggests an association between involvement in an economic intervention project and decreased rates of chronic childhood malnutrition. Future data collection with this project will continue to assess this relationship over time.
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