The influence of fasting on energy and nutrient intake and their corresponding food sources among 6-23 months old children in rural communities with high burden of stunting from Northern Ethiopia

Nutr J. 2022 Jan 14;21(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s12937-022-00759-z.


Background: Limited studies in Ethiopia showed that infants and young children are at high risk of inadequate intake of energy and nutrients. However, inclusive assessment of both nutrient intakes and their food sources are lacking. We aimed at assessing energy and nutrient intakes and their food sources during religious fasting and non-fasting periods among 6-23 months old children in Northern Ethiopia.

Methods: Data for this longitudinal study were collected following repeated multiple-pass 24-h dietary recall technique through face-to-face interviews with primary caregivers. Using a two-stage systematic random sampling method, a total of 570 and 551 children participated respectively in the lent fasting and non-fasting periods. Energy and nutrient intakes were estimated and compared with WHO daily requirements. All foods that a child consumed on the day preceding the date of data collection were recorded and processed with database software. Chi-square and t- tests were used to analyze the data. Non-normally distributed data were analyzed using Wilcoxon signed-rank test and statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

Results: The overall prevalence of child stunting was 41.4%. Almost all of children (99.6%) consumed grains, roots, and tubers. The inadequacy prevalence of energy, protein and eight selected micronutrients (calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C) intake were 96.2, 44.9, and 95.5%, respectively. Calcium and zinc were the highest (100%) deficits observed across all age groups. Although consumption of animal source foods (ASFs) was very low (dairy 10.1%, meat 2.3% and eggs 23.6%), there was significantly higher consumption of meat and eggs during the non-fasting compared to fasting period (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Inadequate intake of energy and nutrients was common among 6-23 months old children. Cereals were found to be the main sources of many of the nutrients. The consumption of ASFs among 6-23-month-old children was low which was also affected by the religious fasting period. Hence, strengthening social and behavior change communication, supporting rural households to raise poultry and small ruminants is recommended.

Keywords: Children; Dietary intake; Orthodox fasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet / methods
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Fasting*
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Rural Population*