Research Update: Three new journal articles leverage Alive & Thrive data

Since its inception 10 years ago, Alive & Thrive has published almost 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. These contributions to global knowledge inform efforts to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition programs. We are now supplementing our annual research summary (see 2019’s here) with a quarterly review.

Secondary analysis of data from Phase 1 of Alive & Thrive (2008 to 2013) led to new insights on the initiative’s behavioral change communication interventions, which have been published in two peer reviewed journals.

two new journal articlesDifferent combinations of behavior change interventions and frequency of interpersonal contacts are associated with infant and young child feeding practices in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Viet Nam, published in Current Developments in Nutrition in December 2019, demonstrated that exposure to interventions matters for impact but the combination of behavior change interventions and number of interpersonal counseling contacts required to support behavior change in infant and young child feeding are context-specific. In Ethiopia, exposure to Interpersonal Communication (IPC) with other interventions was associated with higher odds of achieving minimum meal frequency, minimum dietary diversity, and consumption of iron-rich foods. In Vietnam, exposure to IPC alone or with mass media was associated with higher odds of exclusive breastfeeding. Near-monthly visits were associated with 2–3 times higher odds of IYCF practices in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. In Vietnam, even 1 IPC visit was associated with 2 times higher odds of EBF.

Nutrition intervention using behavioral change communication without additional material inputs increased expenditures on key food groups in Bangladesh, published in January in the Journal of Nutrition, demonstrated that recipients in the intensive intervention mobilized additional resources to improve diets, reflected in increased expenditures and consumption of promoted foods. The research provides no evidence of resource reallocation from nonfood to food expenditures and suggests that mothers instead sought out ways to increase resources so that they could feed their children properly, such as increased employment and (potentially) reduced investments in gold jewelry – a traditional durable asset for women in South Asia.

Social, economic, and political events affect gender equity in China, Nepal, and Nicaragua: a matched, interrupted time-series studypublished in January in Global Health Action, suggested that supportive social and political environments can play an important role in empowering women. Using the Gender Gap Index from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2006–2017), results showed that while political empowerment influenced dramatic increases in equity in Nepal and Nicaragua, gender equity in China declined, largely due to decreased equity in education, economic participation, and health. A review of key social, economic, and political events in these countries during 2006–2017 demonstrated that these key events help explain trends in countries’ gender equity.