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Malnutrition Study: Encouraging Adolescent Females to Prepare a Better Generation

By Yusli Harini, Health Team Leader

Overview: We are now in the 4th year of our 5-year malnutrition study “Developing a Family-Based Nutrition Intervention Model in Ban Village” in partnership with expert professionals from the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Department of Udayana University, to eliminate infant malnutrition. The study involves 3 groups of participants: adolescent females, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, the key actors who greatly affect new-borns and children’s malnutrition.

Malnutrition among children is a result of the poor growth cycle, where the process of malnutrition in children has started when the mother is still in her teens. When we started the field study in 2019, with a survey of nutritional problems in Ban village, we found that females aged 14-19 years tend to have lean bodies, which indicates chronic energy deficiency. We then started applying the educational model by conducting peer education to 64 females in 2021 and 86 females in 2022, which revealed that most of them were not aware of the issue of malnutrition in adolescents. We then provided education on the malnutrition issues, positive body image, and healthy diets to support the adolescent growth spurt and meet the body’s increased demand.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented model, in January and February 2023 we conducted a nutrition and health behaviour re-assessment of the adolescent female participants, revealing several interesting findings, including: they are now starting to apply balanced nutrition and consume food sources of iron to avoid anaemia; aware of nutritional content and can choose better food; and claimed to be more confident with their body shape so as to avoid extreme diets. As a result, some of them have recovered from chronic energy deficiency.

In this 4th year, there will be further implementation and testing of the model that we are developing, in which these encouraging findings bring us closer to achieving the goals of this research: establishing the most effective model in overcoming nutritional problems, thereby ensuring a better life for future generations.

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