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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

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An assessment of nutrition knowledge levels and behaviour among classes one to four pupils in the nestlé healthy kids program in selected counties of Kenya

C.M. Wambo, J.O. Otieno

Abstract


Nearly 30% of Kenya’s children are currently classified as undernourished. One of the policy objectives of the Government of Kenya is to improve nutrition for optimum health for all Kenyans. Concerning school nutrition, the policy focuses on improved nutrition education in schools with an emphasis on developing good nutrition practices and positive food eating habits among pupils. Most Governments in Africa, however, have not acknowledged the importance of nutrition education in children. Healthy Kids Program (HKP) is Nestlé’s global initiative that focuses on raising awareness on nutrition among school-age children in primary schools around the world. The objective of this study was to assess and compare nutrition knowledge levels and behavioural indicators among pupils in classes one to four in HKP-intervention and non-intervention schools in five counties of Kenya using a cross-sectional comparative design. Structured questionnaires were used to assess pupils’ nutrition knowledge levels and behaviour. Study results indicated significant differences in nutrition knowledge levels among pupils in HKP schools compared to those in non-HKP schools (p<0.05) with higher percentages of pupils in HKP schools recording high nutrition knowledge scores of more than 70% compared to those in non-program schools. In class one, program schools had a higher percentage of pupils with high levels of knowledge (75.4%) compared to those in non-program schools (58.9%). Class two HKP schools had a higher percentage of pupils (84%) with high knowledge levels compared to non-program schools (81%) while in class three a higher percentage of pupils in HKP schools had high (13.8%) and average (67.9%) nutrition knowledge levels compared to those in non-HKP schools (high, 4.5% and average, 58%). In class four a higher percentage of pupils in HKP schools (68.9%) had high nutrition knowledge levels compared to 47.7% in non-program schools. The program improved pupils’ attitudes around some aspects of nutrition-related hygiene practices like washing hands before and after eating food, cleaning utensils before and after using them to cook and eat food, good eating behaviour, portion management and eating balanced diets. However, the program did not appear to impact dietary practices as this is a long-term goal that the program will hopefully achieve on a longitudinal basis. The results will hopefully inform Nestlé and other stakeholders on the role of the program in raising nutrition awareness levels of pupils and helping them grow into healthy and productive adults.

Keywords: Healthy Kids Program, Nutrition knowledge levels, Behavioural indicators

Afr. J. Food Agric. Nutr. Dev. 2019; 19(3): 14638-14653



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