Maternal Employment Status and Minimum Meal Frequency in Children 6-23 Months in Tanzania

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Mar 29;16(7):1137. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16071137.


As women in developing world settings gain access to formal work sectors, it is important to understand how such changes might influence child nutrition. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between maternal employment status and minimum meal frequency (MMF) among children in Tanzania. Interviews were conducted with 5000 mothers of children ages 0⁻23 months. The questionnaire used in these interviews was developed by adopting questions from Tanzania's latest Demographic and Health Survey (2015⁻2016) where possible and creating additional questions needed for programmatic baseline measurements. MMF was used as proxy for child nutrition. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify associations between employment status and parenting practices of Tanzanian mothers and MMF of their children. After adjusting for confounders, informal maternal employment [OR = 0.58], lack of financial autonomy [OR = 0.57] and bringing the child with them when working away from home [OR = 0.59] were negatively associated with meeting MMF. Payment in cash [OR = 1.89], carrying food for the child [OR = 1.34] and leaving food at home for the child [OR = 2.52] were positively associated with meeting MMF. Informal maternal employment was found to be negatively associated with meeting MMF among Tanzanian children. However, behaviors such as bringing or leaving prepared food, fiscal autonomy and payment in cash showed significant positive associations. These findings could help direct future programs to reduce child stunting.

Keywords: Tanzania; childcare practices; childhood nutrition; maternal employment; minimum meal frequency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Mothers*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tanzania
  • Young Adult