New Publication on the Barriers and Opportunities for Improved Exclusive Breastfeeding Practices in Tanzania

In May 2019, Cynthia Matare and co-authors published the paper “Barriers and Opportunities for Improved Exclusive Breast-Feeding Practices in Tanzania: Household Trials With Mothers and Fathers” in the Food and Nutrition Bulletin.  This paper assessed parents’ willingness and ability to try specific recommended exclusive breastfeeding practices (EBF) practices plus strategies for fathers to support breastfeeding. Several strategies recommended to overcome barriers, such as use of non-prescribed medicines, were acceptable and feasible, resulting in improved feeding practices and increased time for breastfeeding. Common barriers to EBF were (1) use of gripe water and traditional medicines for perceived symptoms of infantile distress; (2) mothers’ workloads and time away from infants, limiting availability for EBF; and (3) water given for perceived thirst. The researchers conclude engaging fathers in EBF interventions could contribute to important changes in social norms and facilitate men’s involvement in improving breast-feeding practices.

Kate Dickin and Cornell Researchers collaborate on USAID Advancing Nutrition

An article published in December 2018 in the Cornell Chronicle  highlights Dr. Kate Dickin’s new role leading a team of researchers from Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences who are collaborating with John Snow International on USAID Advancing Nutrition, a global multi-sectoral nutrition project. USAID Advancing Nutritionwill provide technical assistance to country-led nutrition efforts in multiple low income countries to develop and scale up effective nutrition interventions, build capacity for multi-sectoral nutrition action, and contribute to global learning on innovative practices. CENTIR is excited to contribute to these efforts!

New publication: Child feeding practices of motivated, low-income parents reflect trade-offs between psychosocial- and nutrition-oriented goals

Roseanne Schuster and co-authors Megan Szpakc, Elizabeth Klein, Kelsey Sklar, and Kate Dickin published a paper, I try, I do”: Child feeding practices of motivated, low-income parents reflect trade-offs between psychosocial- and nutrition-oriented goals, in the journal “Appetite.”

Although there is increased focus on behavior change programs targeting parents to promote healthy child feeding, success of these programs has been limited. To close this gap, we sought to understand parents’ goals for child feeding and their motivations, abilities, and contextual environment that challenged or enabled goal achievement, with a focus on parents’ own childhood food experiences. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews (n = 21) with low-income parents of at least one child aged 3–11 years in three semi-rural counties in upstate New York to explore their emic perspectives on child feeding goals and practices. Transcripts were coded by at least two researchers using the constant comparative approach. Emergent themes were identified and interpreted in the context of the Motivation-Ability-Opportunity framework. Low-income parents articulated and were clearly motivated to achieve both nutrition- and psychosocial-oriented goals. Salient psychosocial goals (e.g., family meals to promote family relationships, help child feel secure), often led to different child feeding practices than indicated by parents’ nutrition-oriented child feeding goals (e.g., nutritious diet, healthful relationship with food). Sometimes these psychosocial goals were in conflict with the nutrition-oriented goals; for example, some parents gave into child food preferences to avoid conflict or hesitated to introduce changes in diets of overweight children to preserve child self-esteem. Prominent contextual barriers included child preferences, life disruptions, and the inflexible time and financial restrictions of poverty. Parents exhibited awareness and motivation to achieve healthy eating goals but success was often thwarted by the salience of psychosocial goals that often motivated less-healthy practices. Thus, behavior change programs should acknowledge the value and relevance of both types of goals and help parents develop strategies to address the tensions between them.

New publication on Life course influences on food provisioning among Mexican-born mothers in New York State

In September 2018, Amanda McClain and co-authors Kate Dickin and Jamie Dollahite published a paper on “Life course influences on food provisioning among low-income, Mexican-born mothers with young children at risk of food insecurity” in the journal “Appetite.”

Dr. McClain’s doctoral research at Cornell explored life course and ecological system influences on food provisioning among low-income, Mexican-born mothers in the U.S. to identify target influences and behaviors for interventions. Life Course Perspective and Ecological Systems Theory guided this qualitative study of women born in Mexico who had lived ≤10 years in U.S., had  at least one child 5 years old or younger, and household incomes <200% of the federal poverty line. Participants completed two semi-structured interviews, including a participant-driven photo elicitation interview.  Five themes emerged that were related to three key life course concepts: social context in Mexico (food insecurity experiences, agrarian experiences, and traditional foods and flavors), transitions (motherhood), and turning points (health events). All themes related to mothers’ overall priority of providing home-cooked meals, and demonstrated life course influences shaping food provisioning values and strategies.



Doctoral student, Ibukun Owoputi, presents cross-cutting research in Accra, Ghana

Doctoral candidate, Ibukun Owoputi, presented her research titled, “Farm production diversity improves children’s intake of vitamin A-rich foods and household food security in Malawi” at the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health Academy (ANH) Week Conference in Accra, Ghana, June 25-29, 2018. ANH gathers global researchers in agriculture, nutrition, and food systems in developing countries. Researchers discussed new and innovative methods for tracking improvements in nutrition and health, with a cross-cutting theme of gender and equity. Click the righthand image for a closer look at Ibukun’s poster!

CENTIR undergraduate presents research at Cornell

Undergraduate researcher Luiza Chempkemoi ’18 (pictured right) presents her research to Katherine Dickin (pictured left) and the larger Cornell community at the Global and Public Health Experiential Learning Symposium in Fall 2017. Titled “Community-based stakeholder mapping: An approach to explore district challenges and opportunities for multi-sectoral nutrition action in Tanzania,” Luiza’s research was an extension of the Building Strong Nutrition Systems (BSNS) project to identify potential community-based actions for scaling up nutrition in Tanzania. Click here for a closer look at her poster. Way to go, Luiza!

Undergraduate research assistants collaborate to share findings at Cornell symposium

stakeholder-mapping-posterUndergraduate researchers Jared Alpern ’18, Luiza Chepkemoi ’18, and Hasna Zainul ’17 (pictured left to right) jointly presented their work at the Global Health Learning Symposium on October 16, 2016. Their poster, titled “Community-based stakeholder mapping: an approach to strengthen multisectoral nutrition interventions,” explored preliminary findings on a mentoring program with District Nutrition Officers in two model districts in Tanzania. As part of the Building Strong Nutrition Systems Project, the program sought to engage community-based, cross disciplinary stakeholders in efforts to strengthen multisectoral strategies to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. Great job, Jared, Luiza & Hasna!

New article by Dr. Laura Smith on predictors of aflatoxin risk

UntitledCENTIR alumna Dr. Laura Smith published a new article, “Examining environmental drivers of spatial variability in aflatoxin accumulation in Kenya maize: Potential utility in risk prediction models,” exploring low cost strategies to predict aflatoxin contamination in maize. Aflatoxins have been associated with stunted growth and delayed development in children and more research is needed to determine how to prevent exposure. For the full article,  visit:

Doctoral candidate Sarah Dumas publishes on the use of smallholder poultry interventions to promote food security

Congratulations to PhD candidate Sarah Dumas whose manuscript “Sustainable smallholder poultry interventions to promote food security and social, agricultural, and ecological resilience in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia” was published in the Food Security journal in June 2016 (Click here for abstract). Her research highlights two small poultry interventions implemented by Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) and demonstrates that addressing health and management challenges within an existing small scale poultry system can not only improve the productivity and profitability for smallholder farmers but the general food security and health for local communities.

New article by Dr. Rukundo Kambarami on factors associated with CHW performance in rural Zimbabwe

Dr. Rukundo Kambarami Benedict, CENTIR alumna and postdoctoral associate, published an article on Community Heath Worker (CHW) performance in the June 2016 issue of Global Health Science and Practice. Titled “Factors Associated With Community Health Worker Performance Differ by Task in a Multi-Tasked Setting in Rural Zimbabwe,” the full manuscript is available here. The paper identified that different factors were associated with CHW performance on different tasks and discussed implications of these findings for CHW programs:

“Programs should consider specific tasks and how they relate to health worker factors, community support, and the work context… Overall, improving CHW performance in multi-task environments requires building a facilitative environment. This means using community-wide interventions that integrate CHW demographic factors, the community, and the work context.”