Impact of household heads' alcohol consumption on the nutritional status of children under five years of age in Ol'lessos division, Nandi district, Kenya
There are many causes of malnutrition. Drugs and substance abuse, a senous global problem with adverse effects on national securities and socio-economic development is a major contributing factor to malnutrition. Using a descriptive cross-sectional research design, this study investigated the impact of household heads' alcohol consumption on the nutritional status of children under five years of age in Ol'lessos Division, Nandi District, Kenya. The specific objectives included, establishing the demographic and socio-economic status of households, determining the level of consumption of alcohol among households, the nutritional status, dietary diversity, morbidity, and the relationship between alcohol consumption and the nutritional status of children under five years of age in households in Ol'lessos Division. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire and focus group discussion. A total of 170 households involving 876 persons were studied. Of these, slightly more than half were women. Forty nine per cent were male, 51.3% female and 25.7% children under five years of age. About 50 percent (100) boys and 49.7% (99) girls fitted the study. The mean household size was 5.2 members. A high percentage of non-alcoholic households (53.2%) were married. Of alcohol consumers (47.1%) were married, (81.8%) were single and others (75%) widowed. Out of 170 household heads, there were 82.9% male-headed and 17.1% female-headed households. Alcoholic households had the highest percentage (36.5%) of non-educated household heads compared to 16.3% of non-alcoholic households. This justifies the levels of malnutrition that is caused by illiteracy levels among households. Fifty three point one percent (53.1%) of alcoholic households had temporary houses (thatched roof, mud walls and mud floor) as compared to 46.9% of non-alcoholic households. In temporary households 4.2% of children were severely malnourished and 9.6% moderately malnourished, while in the permanent households only 0.6% were severely malnourished and 2.4% were moderately malnourished [X2=0.002: p<0.05]. This brings in poverty as a confounding factor to malnutrition of children under five years of age. In land ownership 78.4% households had less than three acres. Malnutrition levels were highest (33.3%) in households with no land and 14.4% in households with land [X~0.030: p<0.05]. Main source of income in households was farming (64.1%). Households that earned a salary had the highest percentage of alcoholics (53.3%), while (50.5%) farming and the rest (41.9%) were practising business. More than 75% male headed and 25% women headed households consumed alcohol [t=0.020: p<0.05]. Many of the consumers (41.7%) drank in the evenings. Households that consumed 3 litres of alcohol had the highest number of malnourished children though tests performed showed no statistical difference. There was no correlation between amount of alcohol used and children's nutritional status. A high percentage (38.1%) of children from alcohol consuming households were underweight, 26.3% stunted and 14.3% underweight compared to children from non-alcohol consuming households. The relationship between alcohol consumption and food diversity was statistically significant [X2= 0.012: p<0.05]. About 55.1% of children from alcohol consuming households were ill within two weeks prior to the research study as compared to 44.9% of non-alcoholic households [X2=0.045: p<0.055]. From the study the relationship between alcohol consumption and food diversity of children in households' in Ol'lessos Division was established. Recommendations made include; establish the factors behind high level of alcohol consumption (alcohol abuse), health workers should educate the community on the importance of various food groups and that government, research institutions, non-governmental organizations and public and the private sector should put their resources together replicate the present study with larger sample sizes in the same or different area using stratification method of sampling.