An assessment of preliminary food-based dietary guidelines for infants 6-12 months of age in the Little Karoo area of the Western Cape Province of South Africa
Objective: This study aimed to assess mother's/caregiver's understanding, practical application and cultural acceptability of a preliminary set of South African food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) for children aged 6-12 months living in the Little Karoo area of the Western Cape Province. Design: An observational, descriptive and cross-sectional study design was followed. Focus group interviews, recorded on videotape, were analysed for qualitative data. Quantitative questionnaires measured knowledge and comprehension of guidelines, perceived constraints to compliance with and importance of guidelines as well as socio demographic data prior to the focus group interviews. Setting: Afrikaans-, English- and Xhosa-speaking communities of the Little Karoo area of the Western Cape Province of South Africa, including the urban areas of Oudtshoorn, Bongulethu, Bridgton, Toekomsrus and the adjacent rural areas of Dysselsdorp, Calitzdorp, Uniondale, Ladismith and Zoar. Subjects: Sixty-four mothers or caregivers to infants 6-12 months of age were included in the sample. Results: Information obtained through the questionnaires supported what was said during discussions. Although perceived as important by the majority of respondents, some of the guidelines were not well understood without prior explanation. Such guidelines were those pertaining to meal frequency and cup feeding, while application of the guideline to prolonged breast-feeding seemed the most problematic. Conclusions: The FBDGs for this age group will have to be supported by extensive and appropriate educational material to be effective when introduced to the public. The fact that the applicability of the guideline to prolonged breast-feeding seemed to be the most problematic is a cause for concern. © 2007 The Authors.