Women who live in disadvantaged circumstances in Canada exhibit dietary intakes below recommended levels, but their children often do not. One reason for this difference may be that mothers modify their own food intake to spare their children nutritional deprivation. The objective of our study was to document whether or not low-income lone mothers compromise their own diets to feed their children.
We studied 141 low-income lone mothers with at least 2 children under the age of 14 years who lived in Atlantic Canada. Women were identified through community organizations using a variety of recruitment strategies. The women were asked weekly for 1 month to recall their food intake over the previous 24 hours; they also reported their children's (n = 333) food intake. Mothers also completed a questionnaire about "food insecurity," that is, a lack of access to adequate, nutritious food through socially acceptable means, during each interview.
Household food insecurity was reported by 78% of mothers during the study month. Mothers' dietary intakes and the adequacy of intake were consistently poorer than their children's intake overall and over the course of a month. The difference in adequacy of intake between mothers and children widened from Time 1, when the family had the most money to purchase food, to Time 4, when the family had the least money. The children experienced some improvement in nutritional intake at Time 3, which was possibly related to food purchases for them associated with receipt of the Child Tax Benefit Credit or the Goods and Services Tax Credit.
Our study demonstrates that low-income lone mothers compromise their own nutritional intake in order to preserve the adequacy of their children's diets.
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Comment On: CMAJ. 2003 Mar 18;168(6):709-1012642427
A request from the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1973 led to a research project funded by the Government of Norway to examine the declining use of mother's milk in developing countries. Two consultants were appointed to compile information on the subject, to develop a theoretical model to illustrate the economic value of breastfeeding, and to study the situation in two developing countries, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Lack of data was a problem in both countries, but estimates could be made, and some of the conclusions reached are the following. Breastfeeding is still the norm in both countries, yet if it were to increase in the Ivory Coast so that every infant were breastfed for two years the savings in national goods cost could amount to US$ 16 to 28 million annually. If it declined to the level of Paris in 1955 (chosen for comparison) the annual national cost would be between US$ 33 and 55 million. At the individual level, by breastfeeding rather than artificially feeding an infant for two years the average family in either country would save between US$ 600 and 730 in the cost of goods and time, plus any savings that might result from the avoidance of disease or malnutrition caused by artificial feeding. In Ghana, changes in the infant-feeding pattern due to rural-to-urban migration would cause only a 20-percent increase in formula imports, while import increases would be more than five times as great as this if the present severe restrictions were relaxed so that formula replaced only one percent of the potential national breast-milk production. A change to artificial feeding could possibly result in considerable population growth because of loss of the contraceptive effect (through lactation amenorrhoea) of breastfeeding. In-depth studies of the economics of breastfeeding present great difficulties and would probably not justify their high cost. The report suggests that studies be carried out to establish national infant-feeding patterns, to monitor how these change and determine the factors responsible for change, and to design appropriate intervention. The report recommends that governments assign the highest possible priority to the promotion of breast-feeding based on its already proven contribution to the health and well being of the child.
The present research was directed on study of an actual meal and status of nutrition of children in the age of from birth till 5 years living in Murmansk (region of Far North). 998 children were surveyed. At an estimation of an actual meal of children the data about breast feeding are received, the basic nutrients misbalance of structure of diets of children are established, and their reasons are analyzed. On the basis of the received data the regional recommendations for organization of a healthy meal in children's preschool establishments and program of hygienic training of the parents to skills of a balanced diet of children of early and junior age were developed.
We explored infant nutrition in Saskatoon by assessing current accessibility to all forms of infant nourishment, investigating challenges in terms of access to infant nutrition, and determining the use and effectiveness of infant nutrition programs and services. We also examined recommendations to improve infant food security in Saskatoon.
Semi-structured community focus groups and stakeholder interviews were conducted between June 2006 and August 2006. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes related to infant feeding practices and barriers, as well as recommendations to improve infant food security in Saskatoon.
Our study showed that infant food security is a concern among lower-income families in Saskatoon. Barriers that limited breastfeeding sustainability or nourishing infants through other means included knowledge of feeding practices, lack of breastfeeding support, access and affordability of infant formula, transportation, and poverty.
Infant nutrition and food security should be improved by expanding education and programming opportunities, increasing breastfeeding support, and identifying acceptable ways to provide emergency formula. If infant food security is to be addressed successfully, discussion and change must occur in social policy and family food security contexts.
The contribution of breastfeeding and mothers milk to the economy is invisible in economic statistics.
This article demonstrates how the economic value of human milk production can be included in economic statistics such as gross domestic product (GDP) and provides estimates for Australia, the United States, and Norway.
The contribution of human milk and lactation to GDP in these countries is estimated using United Nations (System of National Accounting) guidelines and conventional economic valuation approaches to measuring production in GDP.
In Australia, current human milk production levels exceed $3 billion annually. The United States has the potential to produce human milk worth more than US$110 billion a year, but currently nearly two thirds of this value is lost due to premature weaning. In Norway, production valued at US$907 million annually is 60% of its potential value.
The potential loss of economic value from not protecting women's lactation and milk production from competing market pressures is large. Failure to account for mothers' milk production in GDP and other economic data has important consequences for public policy. The invisibility of human milk reduces the perceived importance of programs and regulations that protect and support women to breastfeed. The value of human milk can be measured using accepted international guidelines for calculating national income and production. It is quantitatively nontrivial and should be counted in GDP.