Nutritional quality of the lunches of children in day care in Osun State of Nigeria
AbstractFood patterns and dietary quality in the early years of life are usually determined by parents and other primary caretakers. Unfortunately the diets commonly offered to young children are of low quality and often lack variety, which is the key to specific nutrient adequacy. They are usually of low energy and nutrient density and as a result, multiple nutrient deficiencies are common in this age group. This study investigated the nutritional quality of the lunches of children in day care in Osun State of Nigeria. A structured interview schedule was used to collect data from 180 mothers randomly selected from the study area. Mothers were interviewed about their children�s eating habits, lunches and snacks packed for school. Descriptive statistics, such as percentages and frequency, were used to describe data. The results of the studyrevealed that 76% of the children ate breakfast before going to school. Almost all (91%) mothers gave their children lunch packs for school. The majority (72%) of the children went to school with additional mid-morning snacks, such as biscuits and pastries, and 12% took fruits. Few children (16%) did not take snacks to school. The socio-economic status of mothers was also considered and its effect on type of meal packed was examined. Results showed that 44.4% of the meals packed by mothers included carbohydrate-rich foods; 33.3% were partially balanced diets; and 22.3% packed a balanced meal for the children. Lower class mothers (15%) gave carbohydrate-rich food, while those of the middle class (21%) gave partially balanced diets. The percentage of mothers that packed balanced meals was not significantly different for the three socio-economic groups. It is recommended that mothers shouldhave access to nutrition information about recommended dietary practices for children and should be educated on how to use the four food plan group in planning meals for children through nutrition education programmes.
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