The development of nutrition knowledge and good dietary practices among farm dwellers / Mars Phometsi
Phometsi, Mars Mmasekgapodi
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Background The poor quality of life among farm dweller households is a phenomenon in the North West Province of South Africa. Farm dwellers are a marginalized group, living in poverty on farms with a high disease burden, and their health needs represent formidable challenges to public health professionals. They are a vulnerable group with poor nutritional status and mental health profiles. The prevalence of nutritional intake inadequacies and nutrition related diseases and conditions among them are high. This affects the quality of their life (Vorster et al., 2000; London et al., 1998). People living in poverty, such as farm dwellers, find it difficult to employ healthy eating practices. There is a high level of food insecurity and financial constraints. Their overall intake of fruit and vegetables is inadequate and fall below the recommendation (MacIntyre et al., 2002). In these instances, increasing such consumption among farm dwellers may need to involve promoting and establishing vegetable gardens for self-reliance and food security (Ewing, 1998, Love & Sayed, 2001). Furthermore, it is asserted that among developing populations there is generally a lack of information on growth and health issues (Walker et al., 1992). This gap in knowledge and poverty make nutrition and health issues a problem (Greyvenstein et al., 1999) and can be improved if nutrition theory and other health recommendations are accompanied by action through a learner participatory process (Walker, 2001; van Rooyen & Nene, 1996). It is thus necessary to develop and implement appropriate intervention programs for the promotion of a better quality of life, especially for people living in poverty (Greyvenstein et al., 1999, O'Neill & Viljoen, 2001, Vorster et al., 2000). Objectives The main objectives of this study were to: Promote and establish vegetable gardens in farming communities, and Develop an education programme and use it to educate women and children using the vegetable garden as a point of reference to enhance nutrition education. Setting and subjects The study took place in the North West Province in the Potchefstroom district among a farming community. Two farm schools participated in the study, one as an intervention school and the other as a control school. A total of 132 primary school children, aged 8-16 years, took part in the study. Twenty-four women participated at baseline of which 19 completed the study protocol. Study Design The study was part of the Farm Labourer And General Health programme of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus). It was an intervention study with baseline and end measurements. Research Methods Questionnaire interviews were carried out to elicit information related to nutrition knowledge. Focus group discussions were undertaken to gain insight into perceived barriers and factors that influence consumption among a farming community Results Children A total of 132 children, aged 8-16 and in grades 2-6, completed the study protocol. More than 80% of the children came from labouring families. Baseline results indicate no practical significant difference in nutrition knowledge between the intervention school and the control school. However, increase in knowledge within the intervention school and between groups was large enough to be of importance in practice. There was a tendency of practical significance. The abuse of alcohol, food-related domestic disputes, negligence, and cost were presented as barriers to sound dietary practices.
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