Among the main elements of food security, in terms of food usage, are knowledge and attitude. These are particularly important during the initial two years of a child’s life. The present study was conducted in 2016 and aimed to assess the knowledge and attitude of infants’ mothers from Bushehr (Iran) towards food security using anthropometric indicators.
The present cross-sectional, descriptive-analytical study was performed on 400 mothers of children aged 1-2 years in Bushehr, Iran. Data were collected using a 20-item knowledge questionnaire (CVR = 0.95, CVI = 0.95, and reliability 0.7), a 26-item attitude questionnaire (CVI = 0.94, CVR = 0.91, and reliability 0.76), and a 16-item Radimer/Cornell questionnaire, which were completed by all mothers. Anthropometric indicators of children, including height-for-age, weight-for-age, and weight-for-height were also measured in accordance with the z-score benchmark of the World Health Organization.
A positive and significant relationship was found between knowledge and attitude (r = 0.26, P = 0.0001) as well as between knowledge and household food security (r = 0.11, P = 0.02) in complementary feeding. Approximately 26% of the studied children fell under the risk category of overweight to obese. A significant relationship was found between inadequate knowledge of the mothers and height-for-age (OR = 4.87, P = 0.001) and weight-for-height (OR = 2.33, P = 0.04) indices, as well as between the negative attitude of the mothers and weight-for-height index (OR = 2.91, P = 0.03).
The knowledge of food security purely relates to the dimension of the household food security of a family and not to the individual/child level of food security. It seems that the knowledge of a mother, as a positive factor, does not support child’s food security when the severity of household insecurity triggers the child’s hunger and food inaccessibility. Also, inappropriate knowledge and negative attitude towards food security were associated with an increased risk of obesity. Increased weight, in addition to being affected by the knowledge and attitude of the mothers, is probably also influenced by the incorrect conduct of the mothers. Further investigation on this topic is recommended.