Background of the Study
Pregnancy is the most crucial nutritionally demanding period of every woman’s life. The high demand of nutrients to deposit energy in the form of new tissue, growth of existing maternal tissues such as breast and uterus and increased energy requirements for tissue synthesis makes pregnant women more vulnerable to malnutrition (Brems, 2014).
Food consumption in pregnancy is an important reproductive health issue. It affects the growing baby indirectly via materno-fetal transfer. It is a modifiable factor by which pregnancy and birth outcome indices can be improved. Adequate consumption of certain food elements during pregnancy improves birth weight and labour spontaneity. An estimated 32 million pregnant women (38%) globally are Anemic, with the second highest Anemia prevalence at 52% in the south Asia region. The proportion of undernourished women of reproductive age with body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5kg/m2 is also very high in South Asia at more than 20% (Bhutha, 2014). In 2010, maternal undernutrition was responsible for 1.5 million mortalities in the world. A serious problem of maternal under nutrition is evident in most countries in sub-saharan Africa, south, central and south Eastern Asia (central statistic agency, 2014). Based on Ethiopian Democratic and Health Survey (EDHS), 2014, Ethopia is one of the countries with very high burden of material under nutrition and mortality of 25.1% (Black, 2015).
In 2011, 27% of Ethiopian women were undernourished malnutrition during pregnancy yield both short and long term effects on the health of an infant by programming the infant’s development and associated with risk factors of non-communicable disease such as obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease in later life. Malnourished mothers are more vulnerable to disease, encounter more miscarriages and give birth to underweight children whose survival is at risk (Taleb, 2015).
Poor food consumption leading to undernutrition is a common finding in developing countries and incidence of 10 – 40% has been reported in a rural community of Eastern part of Nigeria (Enebong, 2016). In Nigeria over the years, food consumption amongst pregnant women has been poor the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey reports indicates that undernutrition among pregnant women of 15 – 45 years showed only a minimal improvement over a 10 years period with the 2003 value of 15% reducing to only 11% by 2013 (National Population Commission 2014). Researchers from Western part of Nigeria have reported that 75% of pregnant women had inadequate dietary intake energy and another from the Eastern part reported that 15% of pregnant women adhered to traditional beliefs or taboos about food consumption in pregnancy (Ojogeitimi, 2015). In Nigeria, practically all pregnant women avoided live stock products such as meat, milk and cheese and a major consequence of poor food consumption in pregnancy is anaemia. It has been reported that anaemia occurs in 35 – 75% of pregnant women in Nigeria (Omigbodun, Olatunbosun and Adinma, 2014).
Socio-cultural factors are customs, beliefs, lifestyles, religion, educational levels, taboos, values that characterize a society which can affect their health negatively. Food consumption amongst pregnant women as a result of food taboos has been identified as one of the factors contributing to maternal undernutrition knowledge. The avoidance of certain food items and incorrect regarding their benefits can deprive women from adequate nutrition especially during the critical period of pregnancy.
Statement of the Problem
Issues related to maternal food consumption have continuously posed a tremendous challenge, especially in countries of developing world where maternal under nutrition spreads over the life cycle has contributed towards reducing quality of life and overall economic productivity thereby stalling human development.
An estimated 32 million pregnant women (38%) globally are undernourished with anaemia with the second highest undernutrition prevalence at 52% in the South Asia region (Steveris, 2014).
According to UNICEF (2015), each year, more than half a million women die from causes related to pregnancy. Many of the 200 million women who became pregnant each year, most of them in developing countries suffer from ongoing nutritional deficiencies. Many women suffer from a combination of chronic energy deficiency, poor weight gain in pregnancy, anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies (Huffman, 2016). Pregnancy predisposes women to undernutrition due to deficient intake of food requirement leading to anaemia. The children of malnourished women are not spared from the havoc of undernutrition. They are more likely to face cognitive impairments, short stature, lower resistance to infections and a higher risk of infections throughout their lives (Elizabeth, 2017).
In generals, the fetus is affected also and it results in congenital anomalies, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, low educational attainment in later life, and also increase risk of obesity in later life (Oken, Gluckman, 2015).
Maternal undernutrition diminishes a woman’s productivity causing repercussions to herself, child, family, community and the society at large. The researcher has noticed that a good number of pregnant women in Itukmbang present with anaemia, low weight gain and low birth weight babies. This has motivated her to research on the socio cultural factors influencing food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
Objectives of the Study
General Objective: The main purpose of this study is
- To determine the sociocultural factors influencing food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- To know the influence of food taboos on food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- To know the influence of religion on food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- To know the influence of educational level on food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbong, Uruan Lcoal Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- To identity measures of improving maternal food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- What is the influence of food taboos on food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State
- What is the influence of religion on food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- Does educational level influence food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- What are the measures that can be taken to improve food consumption among pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
Scope of the Study
This study will cover all pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Significance of the Study
This study will help to;
- Enlighten the women on the importance of food consumption and in their right proportions during pregnancy without being influenced by any socio-cultural factors.
- Create awareness to the public on the negative socio-cultural factors that influences food consumption amongst pregnant women and possible measures to improve them.
- Increase the knowledge of nurses/ midwives to improve the content of the health education given to women during their antenatal visits to the hospital.
- Help the government to know and understand the socio-cultural factors influencing food consumption amongst pregnant women in the rural areas in order to create awareness campaign programs to enlighten the community members thus reducing maternal mortality rate in the country
- Serve as a reference maternal for further research
Operational Definition of Terms
- Socio-cultural Factors: Are beliefs, customs, practices within the culture and society that affect the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the people in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- Food: Any substance, solid or liquid that the pregnant woman needs to maintain a healthy pregnancy and pauperism.
- Consumption: The quantity of food eaten by pregnant women in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
- Pregnant Women: Are women who are carrying a developing fetus in utero and carry pregnancy from gestation to delivery in Itukmbang, Uruan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.