Addressing malnutrition in young children in South Africa: Setting the national context for paediatric food-based dietary guidelines

Lesley T. Bourne, Michael K. Hendricks, Debbi Marais, Brian Eley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Despite various national nutrition and primary healthcare programmes being initiated in South Africa over the last decade, child health has deteriorated. This is seen by the rise in infant and child mortality rates, the high prevalence of preventable childhood diseases, e.g. diarrhoea and lower respiratory tract infections, and the coexistence of under-nutrition along with HIV/AIDS. Poor dietary intake, food insecurity and poor quality of basic services prevail within this precarious causal web. The national Integrated Nutrition Programme is a comprehensive nutrition strategy that focuses on children below 6 years old, at-risk pregnant and lactating women, and those affected by communicable and non-communicable diseases. Focus areas relevant to pre-school children include disease-specific nutrition treatment, support and counselling; growth monitoring and promotion (GMP); micronutrient malnutrition control; breastfeeding promotion, protection and support; contributions to household food security; nutrition interventions among HIV-infected children; and nutrition promotion, education and advocacy. Progress towards this includes the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative; mandatory fortification of maize meal and wheat flour with multiple micronutrients; vitamin A supplementation coverage and mandatory iodization of salt by legislation; the provision of free road-to-health charts for GMP; and the National School Nutrition Programme. Since 2003, the basis of the nutrition education strategy has been the locally developed food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs), directed at adults and school-going children. This review sketches the backdrop to and motivation for the introduction of specifically targeted paediatric FBDGs, for mothers and caregivers of children from birth to age 7 years, as a national initiative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number4
Early online date4 Sep 2007
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • breast feeding
  • caregivers
  • child
  • child nutrition disorders
  • child nutritional physiological phenomena
  • child, preschool
  • communicable diseases
  • dietary supplements
  • evidence-based medicine
  • female
  • food supply
  • food, fortified
  • health promotion
  • humans
  • infant
  • infant, newborn
  • male
  • nutrition policy
  • nutritional requirements
  • poverty
  • practice guidelines as topic
  • South Africa
  • weaning


Dive into the research topics of 'Addressing malnutrition in young children in South Africa: Setting the national context for paediatric food-based dietary guidelines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this