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USAID Partners with Parents to Fight Junk Food and Improve Nutrition for Children
March 19, 2021


USAID’s Advancing Nutrition project recently conducted a study on nutritional challenges that negatively affect the health of mothers and children in Batken and Jalal-Abad. The data indicate that children under two are not getting enough vitamins and nutrients due to unhealthy practices like eating “junk food.” The project is using these data to inform parents about better nutrition practices like healthy diets and breastfeeding.

Almost 90% of the survey participants reported that their children aged 6-23 months had eaten some sort of junk food in the past 24 hours. Eating a lot of sugary and salty snack foods like cookies, soft drinks, chips, and salty crackers contributes to both stunting and obesity.

USAID’s Advancing Nutrition project is working with local communities to inform mothers and their families about the importance of healthy diets, hygiene, and sanitation. Last year, the project recruited more than 2,000 activists to support community outreach around these important issues. After receiving proper training on best nutritional practices, these activists reached over 17,000 households. 

The survey also indicated that only half of infants under 6 months are exclusively breastfed. According to WHO, children in this age should only consume breast milk and feeding them with other food and water can damage the baby’s long-term health. 

“I have two kids and thought it was perfectly fine for me to give water or some kasha when my babies were 2-3 months old. Now I know that until 6 months my baby can get everything she needs from breast milk” says Surkeeva Aiturma, 22 years old, from Beshik Jon village of Jalal-Abad oblast. She participated in the information sessions organized by USAID’s Advancing Nutrition project.

In addition, the study indicated that only about 18% of children in Batken aged 6-23 months are receiving a minimum acceptable diet. This means that young children are not getting the required amount of vitamins and nutrients through diverse products like nuts, meats, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. Poor diet limits the intellectual and physical development of infants and children.

The Advancing Nutrition project focuses on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, a period when a child’s brain begins to develop and which lays the foundations for their lifelong health. The project will improve nutrition-related behaviors at the individual, household, and population levels. Advancing Nutrition is also working with local health facilities to improve the quality of nutrition services.


The research for the USAID Advancing Nutrition project was conducted by M-Vector in October – November 2020. The project surveyed 2,091 mothers of children under 2 years in Batken and Jalal-Abad oblasts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all interviews were conducted by computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

To learn more about the survey and USAID Advancing Nutrition project, please contact Nazgul Abazbekova at nabazbekova@advancingnutrition.org and +996772209209.