206789 Government, NGO, and community factors affecting malnutrition in twelve indigenous Guatemalan communities

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 8:50 AM

Paul Kadetz, PhD, MSN, MPH , Department of International Development, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
This research investigated the reasons why, after more than fifty years of health and nutritional interventions with this population, values on health and nutritional indicators for Guatemala reflect some of the poorest values in the Western Hemisphere, with some of the least variance in annual change. This research attempted to identify all factors affecting malnutrition in twelve indigenous communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, at community, municipality, and NGO levels. Nutritional, as well as, activity level community assessments were conducted in order to address the epidemiologic and nutritional transitions reflected in the concurrent undernutrition and overnutrition, simultaneously presenting with a prevalence of both infectious and chronic diseases in this population and sometimes within the same household.

210 surveys with indigenous Guatemalans in twelve communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala were conducted. These surveys assessed the practices, preferences, and perceptions of indigenous Guatemalans regarding nutrition and activity. 50 indigenous Guatemalan informants provided free lists. 50 indigenous and non-indigenous community members, NGO representatives, and municipal officials participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. In addition to these methodologies anthropometry, participant observation, nutritional environment analysis, pile sorts, and positive deviance analysis were utilised. Data was analysed with SPSS, ethnograph, and anthropac.

The research demonstrates that microlevel factors (such as community practices, preferences for, and perceptions of, healthy food and activity), in conjunction with macrolevel factors, (from municipalities and NGOs, regarding appropriate and completed projects that benefited community health and nutrition and facilitated community participation and sustainability) were instrumental in community health & nutrition.

This research contributes to a political ecological approach in addressing complex health issues due to a myriad of factors at various levels. The data from this study is being used by a local university to design a research centre for food security for the region.

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate the levels of analysis by which to study all factors affecting malnutrition in a given population. Explain why a political ecology perspective is essential to study the complex interaction of factors causing malnutrition in a population. Describe the appropriate model which facilitates assessment on all levels, concerning the factors affecting malnutrition in a population.

Keywords: Nutrition, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral Student and was the Principal Investigator of this research. I conducted four other original research projects prior to this. One former research project was also conducted in Guatemala.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.