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The Roles and Influence of Grandmothers and Men: Evidence Supporting a Family-focused Approach to Optimal Infant and Young Child Nutrition

The Grandmother Project | The Infant and Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) Project
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Literature Review

Most policies, research, and programs on infant and young child nutrition and health in Africa, Asia, and Latin America focus on mothers of young children. The results of community interventions with this focus have been disappointing. There is growing recognition that in order to bring about sustained enhancements in household-level nutrition practices, there is a need to adopt a wider approach that involves other influential household actors, including senior women, or grandmothers, and men. The purpose of this report is to make available to the public health community the evidence on the influence of grandmothers and men on child nutrition and to offer recommendations for community nutrition intervention planners to strengthen strategies and increase program results.

This review of both published and gray literature has two objectives: (1) to examine the research on the roles and influence of grandmothers and men in family-level nutrition practices across cultures; and (2) to examine community nutrition interventions in which grandmothers and/or men have been involved in order to understand programmatic approaches used and results obtained. The review includes analysis of studies on infant and young child feeding in HIV/AIDS-prevalent areas and specifically looks at the inclusion of grandmothers and men in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) interventions.