Fathers’ knowledge of diet influences what infants eat (Ethiopia)


An Ethiopian study has found that what a young child (6 -23 months) eats correlates with many aspects of fathers’ knowledge and practice of child health and childcare. Children are more likely to be receiving sufficient diversity of food if their father:

  • understands the different food groups
  • understands child health
  • understands childcare tasks
  • is involved in routine childcare
  • is attentive to and engaged in meeting the child’s needs
  • participates in feeding the child

The most significant correlation of these is the father’s understanding of the different food groups.

The study covered 850 families, some rural and some urban. Inadequate diet was a substantial issue in the sample: 46% of the children in the rural areas, and 72% of the children in the urban areas fell below the minimum dietary diversity they need (namely, eating food from less than four of the seven food groups).

The researchers conclude that what fathers know and don’t know is important for child health and infant nutrition programmes should address the issue of fathers’ knowledge.


Bilal SM, Dinant G, Blanco R, Crutzen R, Mulugeta A & Spigt M (2016), The influence of father’s child feeding knowledge and practices on children’s dietary diversity: a study in urban and rural districts of Northern Ethiopia, 2013, Maternal and Child Nutrition 12

Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia. Creative Commons.