Effectiveness of agricultural interventions that aim to improve nutritional status of children

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The question posed by the review cannot be answered with any level of confidence. The data available show a poor effect of these interventions on nutritional status, but methodological weaknesses of the studies cast serious doubts on the validity of these results. More rigorous and better designed studies are needed, as well as the establishment of agreed quality standards to guide researchers in this important area.

Agricultural interventions in developing countries have been considered to have an effect on nutrition in children. This review aimed to assess the effectiveness of such interventions against four main outcomes; program participation, income, dietary diversity, and micronutrient intake. Twenty-three studies were included in this review. The studies were tested for bias and rated low, medium or high quality along four dimensions. Results from most studies evaluating home garden interventions showed a positive effect on production of agricultural goods but not on household income. A positive effect on promoting consumption of micronutrient and protein rich food was observed, however the effect of interventions of overall diet of participants was unclear. Little evidence showed a positive effect on vitamin A absorption and prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight in children <5 years old. No evidence was found for an effect on iron absorption. Reports of participation rates were not recorded. No solid conclusions were drawn in regards to the effectiveness of agricultural interventions in improving the nutritional status of children in developing countries, indicating a gap in adequate evidence.

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