Nutrition and Health Among Mothers with Children Under Age 5 in the Galapagos

Monday, July 11, 2011: 4:25 PM

Julee Waldrop, DNP
College of Nursing, The University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Rachel Page, BA
Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Margaret Bentley, PhD
UNC Gillings School of Public Health, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Learning Objective 1: ..describe unique social, environmental and health issues facing women and children in the Galapagos Islands.

Learning Objective 2: ... discuss health needs related to body image and nutrition of women and their children in the Galapagos Islands.

Purpose: The population and the economy of the Galapagos Islands have rapidly increased in the last 20 years placing these islands in a state of nutritional transition.  Their geographic isolation and unique planting restrictions impact food quality and security.  The Island of Isabella also faces a lack of quality medical professionals as providers of health care and advice (Waldrop, 2009).  Changes in dietary patterns, nutrition and health status related to these factors are unknown.  The purpose of this study to identify and describe health and nutrition issues for women with children < 5 years old on Isla Isabela in Galapagos, Ecuador. 

Methods: The study design is a mixed methods descriptive study.  Twenty women with at least one child under 5 years of age were interviewed.  In addition, anthropometric data was collected on the women and their children.  Body image silhouettes were used to evaluate perceived body image (Hager, McGill & Black, 2010).   Interviews were analyzed with Atlas.ti and through the creation of visual matrixes.  

Results: Nine (45%) women were overweight or obese.  Seven (35%) of children were overweight or obese.  Average body dysphoria scores were +0.8 implying that mothers wanted to be smaller than they perceived themselves.  Body dysphoria scores for mothers’ perception of their childrens’ body size were -0.8 demonstrating that mothers desired children to be larger than they perceived them.  Qualitative analysis revealed varying understanding of healthy body weight for self and children creating a dual burden (Doak, et al., 2005) in many households with over and under nutrition present.

Conclusion: Traditional international nutrition and health interventions tend to focus on malnourishment and increasing caloric consumption.  This may need to be modified in areas of rapid economic and nutritional transition such as the Galapagos Islands.