Nourishing networks: A social-ecological analysis of a network intervention for improving household nutrition in Western Kenya

Soc Sci Med. 2018 Jan;197:95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.023. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


Rationale: A growing body of research emphasizes the need to engage social networks in maternal and child nutrition interventions. However, an understanding of how interventions functionally engage not only mothers but fathers, grandparents, friends, and other social network members remains limited.

Objective: This study uses an adaptation of a social-ecological model to analyze the multiple levels at which the Kanyakla Nutrition Program operates to change behavior.

Methods: This study analyzes focus group data (four groups; n = 35, 7 men and 28 women) following the implementation of the Kanyakla Nutrition Program, a novel nutrition intervention engaging social networks to increase nutrition knowledge, shift perceptions, and promote positive practices for infant and young child feeding and community nutrition in general.

Results: Participant perspectives indicate that the Kanyakla Nutrition Program contributed to nutrition knowledge and confidence, changed perceptions, and supported infant and child feeding practices at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels. However, many respondents report challenges in transcending barriers at the broader community and systems levels of influence, where environmental and economic constraints continue to affect food access.

Conclusion: Analysis of the Kanyakla Nutrition Program suggests that for interventions addressing household level determinants of nutrition, simultaneously engaging the household's network of interpersonal and community relationships can play a role in building momentum and consensus to address persistent structural barriers to improved nutrition.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Focus groups; Food security; Infant and young child feeding; Kenya; Social networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Environment
  • Social Support*
  • Young Adult