A development NGO working on nutrition issues in France? Surprising, yes, but not useless. At a time when global inequalities are following a North-South logic less and less, inequalities are growing within countries and poverty and nutrition problems in France are nearing those studied by GRET for two decades in the framework of its efforts to fight malnutrition in developing countries. In 2013, GRET conducted a diagnosis of the nutritional status of pregnant women and young children in the city of Nevers, notably in at-risk environments—a subject on which there is little data.
On March 11, 2014, GRET and the association ASEM (Acteurs Solidaires en Marche) presented the results of the study they had conducted on the feeding and care practices of pregnant women and young children in Nevers to local organizations working in the fields of food, health and social issues. The diagnostic was conducted in two at-risk neighborhoods through individual interviews with 50 women, focus groups, and numerous discussions with local actors working with this population. Against a backdrop characteristic of at-risk urban zones, the diagnostic revealed the following:
- inadequate health and food practices: de-structured eating, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, very little knowledge of breastfeeding, low breastfeeding rates, too early introduction of solids;
- great difficulty in the mother-child relationship: mothers seeking to avoid conflict and developing fusional relationships with their children, they have low self-confidence and give in on questions affecting the good nutrition of their children; and
- very strong isolation of women, the major determinant of poor nutrition practices: very few relationships within the neighborhood, strong supervision from social services, and a desire to re-affirm oneself by rebelling against prevention advice.
The local and institutional actors present agree on the need to design actions targeting at-risk pregnant women and mothers of young children. Recommendations were issued and an action plan is being elaborated to intervene effectively on these nutrition issues in France.