How Social Behavior Effects Nutrition and Health

Many individuals, including family members, health care professionals, farmers, and agriculture agents, religious and political officials, and politicians, as well as private-sector businesses, affect our behavior on taking nutrition.

These effects may be positive or negative in regards to augmented behavior. People are more likely to adapt to a new habit if they think it would be accepted by their families, neighbors, and society.

Social and Behavior Change (SBC)

SBC is a programming methodology that gives insight into why individuals act the way they do and how habits change in larger social and economic environments to achieve beneficial effects by and through particular population segments.

Taking an SBC nutrition strategy ensures that all parties have specific behavior improvement targets in mind in planning, delivering, and monitoring nutrition intervention, leading to better nutrition outcomes. Data suggest that individuals can more quickly modify their habits when the community where they live and work facilitates those changes.

Catalyzing positive change in behavior on a scale involves empowering core communities and developing strategies, economies, and social settings.

A logical structure is a comprehensive method of mapping a program's behaviors and drawing the direction from those activities to the intended consequences for health or diet. This is an instance of a conceptual structure that USAID has used to ensure that we all have the same view of SBC nutrition while collaborating with stakeholders.

A typical pitfall in SBC programming focuses solely on communication practices to eliminate hurdles and draw on facilitators for action. SBC's most successful methods merge all engagement practices and activities that function strategically to eliminate obstacles. For continuity, we call these non-communication processes. The following can provide examples of all forms of activities:

  • Mass media campaign
  • Interpersonal communication
  • System strengthening
  • Community mobilization
  • Advocacy
  • Environmental nudging

According to a report published in USAID Spring, 2014 by Fox and Obregon, evidence suggests that behavior modification boosts interventions' success, but only if programs build opportunities that allow individuals to encourage the behavior.

  • Projects that employ SBC approaches have a more significant effect than those that do not rely on nutritional outcomes.
  • Effectiveness is enhanced through reinforcing signals across various platforms and expanded interactions.
  • The degree of improvement is increased or restricted by social expectations, gender roles, and environmental influences.
  • Coordination between methodologies is essential to ensure that activities influence the practices in question.

Impact of Malnutrition

Research published in Lancet concluded that malnutrition, the mortality of 3 million children under the age of 5, is responsible for almost half of all child deaths every year and is the most considerable danger to child health. Malnutrition further restricts physical, motor, and cognitive growth within the first 1,000 days.

According to the Global Nutrition Report 2017, one of the most substantial investments for ensuring the future of children, communities, and nations is to boost nutrition during the first 1000 days.

Priority conduct is also determined by a series of collegial SBC design sessions, preferably including technical expertise from relevant sectors, members of the population, implementation stakeholders of the government and the private sector, and supported by SBC personnel.

The key that binds an SBC approach together may be a well-planned, multichannel communications program. It ensures that the project's contact efforts hit critical stakeholders convincingly and unforgettable, enhancing non-communication activities. When preparing interactions as part of an SBC intervention, below are several considerations.

  • The focus and influencing categories include elements of a marketing plan; the topics, ideas, and specific content of messages; the form of the medium used; and the platforms via which messages would be forwarded.
  • When choosing your channel(s) of contact, consider your audience carefully and the significance of the actions you encourage. For example, if they rely on written language, printed materials would not be successful, but literacy in your priority category is low.
  • To help create persuasive and unforgettable engagement interventions and content and to carry communication plans to scale, there is increasing expertise in the use of innovative media development and communications companies if project resources permit.
  • Depending on the problem being tackled, a strategy may be more or less successful. For instance, to motivational messages and shifting social norms, entertainment education formats are well adapted.

In conclusion, nutrition intervention strategies will produce sustained changes in various nutrition-related activities through a comprehensive, evidence-based approach rooted in behavioral research. In the broader supporting climate, the SBC strategy contextualizes classes of individuals and attitudes. It can incorporate interventions that help alter social expectations, including unintended influencers, and improve economic opportunities to support behavioral improvements for nutrition.

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

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