To assess the association between mother’s social capital and dietary diversity among infants aged 6-12 months using a cross-sectional data at enrollment from a cluster randomized trial in rural Ethiopia.
Maternal social capital in the previous year was assessed using the Adapted Social Capital Assessment Tool – Short Version, measuring community group membership, emotional/economic support, involvement in citizenship activities, and cognitive social capital. Children’s dietary diversity score (DDS, range:0-7) and consumption of 7 food groups were assessed using a 24-hour dietary recall. Linear/logistic multivariate regressions were performed, adjusting for clustering and confounding variables.
Among 1,704 mothers, 61.8% had at least one community group membership; 37.1% received emotional/economic assistance from one or more individuals; 67.2% were involved in citizenship activities; and 34.3% scored high in cognitive social capital. Mothers having two or more memberships (compared to none) was associated with higher DDS (ß-coefficient=0.41; 95%CI:0.07,0.74). Community membership was associated with higher consumption of milk foods (OR=3.51; 95%CI:1.76,7.03); involvement in citizenship activities was associated with higher consumption of milk foods (OR=1.90; 95%CI:1.18,3.10) and yellow-colored fruits and vegetables (OR=2.94; 95%CI:1.72,5.03); and support from individuals was associated with higher consumption of eggs (OR=2.31; 95%CI:1.46,3.66). However, higher cognitive social capital was associated with lower consumption of meats (OR=0.35; 95%CI:0.16,0.80) and legumes (OR=0.53; 95%CI:0.30,0.95).
Mothers’ social capital, except for cognitive social capital, may have advantages in improving dietary diversity among young children in rural Ethiopia. It may be beneficial for child nutrition programs in low-resource settings to encourage mothers to improve their social capital.