Nutritional Status of Adolescent Girls from Rural Communities of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia
AbstractBackground: Addressing the nutritional needs of adolescents could be an important step towards breaking the vicious cycle of intergenerational malnutrition.
Objective: Assess nutritional status of rural adolescent girls.
Methods: Anthropometric and socio-demographic information from 211 adolescent girls representing 650 randomly selected households from thirteen communities in Tigray was used in data analysis. Height-for-age and BMI-for-age were compared to the 2007 WHO growth reference. Data were analyzed using SAS, Version 9.1.
Results: None of the households reported access to adolescent micronutrient supplementation. The girls were shorter and thinner than the 2007 WHO reference population. The cross-sectional prevalence of stunting and thinness were 26.5% and 58.3%, respectively. Lack of latrine facilities was significantly associated with stunting (p = 0.0033) and
thinness (p<0.0001). Age was strong predictor of stunting (r2 = 0.8838, p<0.0001) and thinness (r2 = 0.3324, p<0.0001).
Conclusion: Undernutrition was prevalent among the girls. Strategies to improve the nutritional status of girls need to go beyond the conventional maternal and child health care programs to reach girls before conception to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition. Further, carefully designed longitudinal studies are needed to identify the
reasons for poor growth throughout the period of adolescence in this population.