New Journal Article Finds Nutrition Social Behavior Change Interventions Improve Child Nutrition

April 5th, 2021 | News


A new paper, published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, highlights the impact of a four-year research project focused on behavior change interventions around nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) and maternal and child nutrition in India

The project evaluated whether community videos focused on nutrition-sensitive agriculture and/or nutrition-specific program content are effective in improving nutrition outcomes of pregnant and lactating women and children under two years of age.

Upscaling Participatory Action and Videos for Agriculture and Nutrition (UPAVAN) – a four-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT) – tested the impact of three NSA interventions using participatory videos, women’s group meetings, and Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) each compared with the control arm, on maternal and children’s dietary diversity, maternal body mass index (BMI), and child wasting. The study found that interventions improved children’s and mothers’ dietary diversity and children’s minimum acceptable diet. None of the interventions affected maternal BMI or child wasting.

Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) was the principal investigator for the study. JSI staff, Peggy Koniz-Booher and Heather Danton served as technical advisors during the design and implementation of the interventions and co-authored the journal article The LSHTM collaborated with the University College of London and Development Corner on the research design, data collection, and analysis. JSI initially engaged through the USAID-funded nutrition flagship project, Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING), leading the formative research and training of field staff in both NSA and maternal-infant and young child nutrition (MIYCN) We also partnered with Digital Green, Ekjut, and the Voluntary Association for Rural Reconstruction & Appropriate Technology to ensure the quality and fidelity of program delivery. Under JSI’s role in supporting the dissemination and research uptake plan, we led the development of a short documentary film on the UPAVAN approach to reducing malnutrition.

The UPAVAN team tested this innovative community video-driven social and behavior change intervention and participatory learning and action (PLA) cycles to promote multiple aspects of NSA, dietary diversity, MIYCN, hygiene, and more.

The study is the first RCT to evaluate the effects of nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions on maternal and child nutrition in India. Our results show that making agricultural interventions nutrition-sensitive can improve diets. Although the study was not designed to detect differences between interventions, the largest impact for dietary diversity were found in the study arm that combined NSA and MIYCN videos with PLA activities (the AGRI-NUT+PLA group) versus the control. This result suggests that enhancing participatory components using a PLA cycle could accelerate nutrition-sensitive agriculture intervention improvements in diet quality. The participatory nature of interventions might have created an enabling environment for women to adopt new dietary practices through peer support, building women’s confidence, problem-solving, and collective action. 

Read the full article Effect of nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions with participatory videos and women’s group meetings on maternal and child nutritional outcomes in rural Odisha, India (UPAVAN trial): a four-arm, observer-blind, cluster-randomised controlled trial.

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