Nutritional status of preschool children in semi-urban Area of Benue State, Nigeria
This study was carried out to assess the nutritional status of preschool children under-5 years in Benue state Nigeria. in order to establish and provide baseline information on the health and nutritional status of the target group. The study was carried out using anthropometric measurements (weights and heights) which were used in determining height-for-age, weight-for-age and weight-for-height, these indices were compared with WHO standards. Dietary assessment was carried out using food frequency questionnaire and 24-hour dietary recall obtained from their mothers. A semi-structured pretested questionnaire was used in gathering information on the socio-demographic and economic characteristics of mothers. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 21.0. The study revealed that the younger children (3 years old) were more severely malnourished than any other age, although the nutritional status improved with increased age. There was no difference in gender. 19.1, 17.9 and 18.9% were stunted, underweight and wasted respectively. In terms of dietary diversity score, majority of the children (45.7%) had low diversity (<4 food groups), only 29.6% accessed high dietary diversity score (6-8 food groups). Cereals, roots and tuber were the most popular food group consumed by children (31.2%), eggs diversity was the least (2.6%) consumed. Majority (56.9%) of the mothers had just secondary school education, only 16.3% earned a monthly income above N25, 000. The findings show that the nutritional status of Under-5 children in the study location is poor. Malnutrition was evident among young children due to the poor socio-economic status of their mothers.
Keywords: Nutritional status, Under-nutrition, Dietary diversity, Preschool aged children, Under five