Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Complementary feeding

Nutrient intakes from complementary foods consumed by young children (aged 12–23 months) from North Wollo, northern Ethiopia: the need for agro-ecologically adapted interventions

Kaleab Bayea1a2 c1, Jean-Pierre Guyota2, Christèle Icard-Vernièrea2 and Claire Mouquet-Riviera2

a1 Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, PO Box 150201, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

a2 IRD UMR 204 «Prévention des Malnutritions et des Pathologies Associées» (Nutripass), IRD/UM1/UM2, Montpellier, France


Objective To characterize current feeding practices and to evaluate the adequacy of energy and nutrient intakes of young children in subsistence farming rural households in North Wollo, Ethiopia.

Design A cross-sectional study examining sociodemographic status, anthropometry, breast-feeding and complementary feeding practices using two in-home non-consecutive 24 h recalls.

Settings Two rural villages in the highlands and lowlands of Gobalafto district, North Wollo.

Subjects Seventy-six young children aged 12–23 months, thirty-nine from the lowlands and thirty-seven from the highlands.

Results About 33 % of the children, ∼46 % in the highlands and 24 % in the lowlands (P = 0·05), were stunted. Complementary diets were low in animal products, fruits and vegetables. Cereals and legumes were the major sources of energy, protein, Ca, Fe, Zn and vitamin A. Legumes with potentially toxic components (grass pea, broad beans) and low nutrient-dense beverages such as tea were frequently consumed. Intakes of energy, Ca, Zn, vitamin A and vitamin C from complementary foods were below WHO recommendations assuming average breast-milk intakes. In contrast, Fe and protein intakes and densities met WHO recommendations. Although vitamin C intakes and densities were higher (P < 0·05) for the lowlands, they remained far below WHO recommendations.

Conclusions Interventions promoting the WHO guiding principles for complementary feeding practices and behaviours that take the agro-ecological contexts into account are needed here. Furthermore, specific recommendations should be formulated to discourage the consumption of grass pea, broad beans and low nutrient-dense beverages such as tea.

(Received July 14 2012)

(Revised October 10 2012)

(Accepted November 07 2012)

(Online publication December 13 2012)


  • Feeding practices;
  • Micronutrients;
  • Complementary foods;
  • Altitude


c1 Corresponding author: Email