Cameroon and the Ivory Coast have a high prevalence of anaemia, malnutrition issues and food insecurity. We have employed a FoodStyles study here to understand the food journey of infants below three years old, their mothers’ knowledge, practices and representations of infant diet and the link perceived with obesity and anaemia.
Key learnings from Cameroon and Ivory Coast FoodStyles
• Mums are also spouses and active women which means they have to trade-off between different constraints. Thus there is a gap between what they know they should do and what they really do and it explains the discrepancy with the grandmothers’ traditions and the scientific norms.
• The social environment is very important, with many people advising and influencing the mother, e.g. the father, the grandmother, the midwife, friends and neighbours
• Anaemia is culturally known by mothers and recognised as a disease. However, there is a lack of awareness of the link between diet and anaemia. Mothers use ‘traditional’ treatments to cure anaemia, putting in place strategies which are linked to the red color (blood color) like bissap, leaves, coca and tomato sauce.
• A beautiful baby is a perceived as a big baby, that is to say that obesity is less a question of body mass index than a cultural aesthetic standard.