Article Text

Original research
‘Children eat all things here’: a qualitative study of mothers’ perceptions and cultural beliefs about underweight and overweight children and adolescents in selected communities in two Nigerian states
  1. Adeleye Abiodun Adeomi1,2,
  2. Adesegun Fatusi1,3,
  3. Kerstin Klipstein-Grobusch2,4
  1. 1Community Health, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun, Nigeria
  2. 2Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg-Braamfontein, Gauteng, South Africa
  3. 3Community Medicine, University of Medical Sciences, New York, Ondo, Nigeria
  4. 4Julius Global Health, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adeleye Abiodun Adeomi; aadeomi{at}cartafrica.org

Abstract

Introduction The perception of mothers about causes of underweight and overweight among children or adolescents and associated cultural beliefs may influence nutritional status. However, data from qualitative studies on this subject and regarding age 6–19 are scarce in Nigeria.

Objective This study aimed to explore mothers’ perceptions and cultural beliefs about underweight and overweight children and adolescents in selected communities in a northern and a southern Nigerian state.

Design This was a qualitative study using focus group discussions (FGD). Eight FGD sessions were held. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and the transcripts were coded and analysed using NVivo V.11, and direct quotations representing the themes generated from the perspectives were cited as appropriate.

Setting The study was carried out in eight randomly selected rural and urban communities in Gombe and Osun states of Nigeria.

Participants Seventy-six mothers of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years.

Results The mothers identified concepts, causes and community experience of underweight and overweight children and adolescents, however, some gaps and misconceptions were observed. These included perspectives that suggest a limited understanding of the concepts of mild and moderate malnutrition and stunting and citing of ‘witches and wizards’ as causes of malnutrition. The mothers observed that being underweight was more prevalent in rural communities of Osun and Gombe states, while overweight was more prevalent in urban communities in Osun state. The majority of the women reported no known food taboo or restrictions, and no cultural beliefs relating to the nutrition of children and adolescents.

Conclusion Gaps and misconceptions exist in the perceptions of mothers on underweight and overweight children and adolescents. Food taboos, food restrictions and other cultural beliefs were not reported by majority of the mothers. Educational programmes for mothers on child/adolescent nutrition should target identified gaps and misconceptions.

  • Nutrition
  • Community child health
  • PUBLIC HEALTH
  • QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Data availability statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to ethical considerations. Data are available on reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to ethical considerations. Data are available on reasonable request.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors All the authors were involved in the conceptualisation of the research idea and topic, the design of the methodology and the proposal. AAA carried out the study as part of his PhD work, and he is the one responsible for the overall content as guarantor. AF and KK-G supervised, provided useful suggestions and the mentorship that helped to shape the study into the present form. All the authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This research was supported by the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA). CARTA is jointly led by the African Population and Health Research Center and the University of the Witwatersrand and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York (Grant No: G-19-57145), Sida (Grant No:54100113), Uppsala Monitoring Centre and the DELTAS Africa Initiative (Grant No: 107768/Z/15/Z). The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the UK government.

  • Disclaimer The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the Fellow.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.