Dietary diversity and nutritional status of children aged 6–59 months from rural fishing and non-fishing communities in Zambia

Pamela A. Marinda*, Fred Chalula, Christopher Khayeka-Wandabwa, Keiron Audain, Shakuntala H. Thilsted

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Low-quality complementary foods combined with inappropriate feeding practices put children under the age of five in developing countries at high risk for undernutrition. This study explored dietary diversity, fish consumption patterns and nutritional status of children in Luapula, a rural province in Zambia, where households rely on capture fisheries for their livelihoods. In the cross-sectional study, households with children aged 6–59 months were enrolled in the study. A semi-structured questionnaire was utilised to collect socioeconomic characteristics, dietary intake and anthropometric data. Descriptive statistics and bivariate associations were conducted. 23% of children aged 6–23 months met the minimum dietary diversity. About 49% and 41% of the children were fed on fresh small pelagic fish and large dried fish once to twice a week, respectively. Imbilya (Serranochromis mellandi), Chisense (Poecilothrissa moeruensis), and amatuku (Tilapia sparrmanii) were the most preferred fish species due to their availability and affordability. Only 3.5% of children consumed porridge to which fish powder had been added. There was a significant difference in the height for age z scores of children in the two communities (χ2= 12.404; p = 0.002, d.f = 2). Low dietary diversity was observed across the fishing and non-fishing communities and less than half of the children consumed fish despite proximity of the study sites to one of the largest water bodies in Zambia. Better nutrition outcomes were observed among children in capture fisheries dependent households. Nutrition education in growth monitoring and promotion centres should address the issue of adequacy of diets with regard to frequency and diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01527
JournalScientific African
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Children
  • Dietary diversity
  • Fish
  • Nutritional status
  • Zambia


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