BACKGROUND: Strategies to improve infant and young child nutrition in low- and middle- income countries need to be implemented at scale. We contextualised and packaged successful strategies into a feasible intervention for implementation in rural Tanzania. Opportunities that can optimise delivery of the intervention and encourage behaviour change include mothers willingness to modifying practices; support of family members; seasonal availability and accessibility of foods; established set-up of village peers and functioning health system. The primary objective of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a nutrition education package in improving feeding practices, dietary adequacy and growth as compared to routine health education.
METHODS/DESIGN: A parallel cluster randomised controlled trial will be conducted in rural central Tanzania in 9 intervention and 9 control villages. The control group will receive routine health education offered monthly by health staff at health facilities. The intervention group will receive a nutrition education package in addition to the routine health education. The education package is comprised of four components: 1) education and counselling of mothers, 2) training community-based nutrition counsellors and monthly home visits, 3) sensitisation meetings with health staff and family members, and 4) supervision of community-based nutrition counsellors. The duration of the intervention is 9 months and infants will be recruited at 6 months of age. Primary outcome (linear growth as length-for-age Z-scores) and secondary outcomes (changes in weight-for-length Z-scores; mean intake of energy, fat, iron and zinc from complementary foods; proportion of children consuming 4 or more food groups and recommended number of semi-solid/soft meals and snacks per day; maternal level of knowledge and performance of recommended practices) will be assessed at baseline and ages 9, 12 and 15 months. Process evaluation will document reach, dose and fidelity of the intervention and context at 8 and 15 months.
DISCUSSION: Results of the trial will provide evidence of the effectiveness of the nutrition education package in community settings of rural Tanzania. They will provide recommendations for strengthening the nutrition component of health education in child health services.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02249754, September 25, 2014.