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Nutritional Status and Cognitive Performance among Children Aged 5-12 Years from Urban and Rural Areas of Enugu State, Nigeria
Without adequate nutrition, children cannot develop to their full physical and mental potentials. The nutritional status and the cognitive performance of 500 school children aged 5-12 years from urban and rural areas of Enugu State, Nigeria were evaluated. Anthropometric measurements of heights and weights were obtained using standardized procedures. The Raven's Standardized Progressive Matrices Sets A-E was used to measure cognitive performance. The relationship between these indices with the cognitive performance was evaluated using chi-square analysis. The study revealed that 27.7% of the children were stunted, 29.9% were underweight and 25.5% wasted. Rural children (32.6%) were significantly (P <=0.021) more stunted than those in the urban (22.9%). Stunting was significantly higher among 10-12 year olds in both urban (P <0.001) and rural (P <=0.001) areas. Wasting was significantly (P <0.001) more among the urban (32.9%) than rural (18.1%) school children. Children 5-9 years were more wasted in both localities. However, this was only significant (P <0.001) for children in the rural area. Underweight was found to be higher among the 10-12 year olds in both localities but this was only significant (P <0.005) for the rural area. The cognitive performances of the children were poor as 45% performed below average, while 24.7% were intellectually defective. Urban children performed significantly (P <0.001) better than their rural counterparts. Children 5-9 years performed significantly (P<0.001) better than the older ones in both localities. Significant association (P <0.005) were found between stunting, family income, mother's education, household size and cognitive performance for the rural children.This study corroborates other reports pointing to the high compelling link between nutritional status and cognitive performance in children.