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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Food security and nutritional status in fishing communities in Bolivia's Northern Amazon : results of a household survey Baker-French, Sophia


Background: Bolivia faces both under and over nutrition. Fishing communities are thought to be at particularly high risk of malnutrition; however, their household food security and nutrition status is unknown. Objective: To examine the prevalence and correlates of household food insecurity, childhood stunting and maternal overweight in fisher populations in Bolivia’s Northern Amazon Basin. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 304 urban and 327 rural households with a head female of child bearing age (15-49 years) during the low water (October-November) and 186 urban and 297 rural households during the high water (February-March) seasons. Household food insecurity was measured with the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, Household Hunger Scale and the Household Dietary Diversity Score. Demographic, socioeconomic and other relevant data were collected. Weight and height were measured for children (<60 months) and their mothers. Results: 45% of urban and 69% of rural households were food insecure. Only 9% of urban and 13% of rural households reported hunger. The average dietary diversity score was nine and seven out of 12 among the urban and rural groups respectively. For both groups, significantly fewer households were food insecure during the high versus low water season (urban P=0.01 and rural P=0.03). Over 34% of urban and 42% of rural children were stunted and 57% of urban and 46% of rural women were overweight/obese. No significant associations were found between food insecurity and childhood stunting or maternal obesity or between childhood stunting and maternal obesity. Independent correlates of household food insecurity included unemployment and consuming wild meat for both populations as well as receiving food assistance and having inadequate floor materials for the urban population and being Indigenous and having more household members for the rural population. The household survey identified inappropriate dietary intake, unhealthy environments and high rates of diarrhea in both populations, which may contribute stunting. Maternal overweight/obesity was associated with older age and some socioeconomic variables. Conclusion: Household food insecurity, childhood stunting and maternal overweight are highly prevalent, but not significantly associated. It is questionable whether improving household food insecurity alone would eliminate childhood stunting or maternal obesity.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada