Dietary Diversity, Nutritional status and Academic performance of pupils in public primary schools in Port Harcourt Metropolis
Background: Poor nutrition can hinder pupils from achieving good educational performance at school. This study provides information on the dietary diversity and nutritional status of school-age children in Rivers State, and their relationship with academic performance.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study design was conducted among pupils attending public primary schools, aged 6-11 years. Using a multi-stage sampling technique, data on dietary diversity was collected using a two-day 24-hour dietary recall tool adapted from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity. Nutritional status was assessed using anthropometric measures and educational performance was assessed using the end of term examination results for Mathematics and English language in the selected schools. Statistical analyses were performed at p level of 0.05.
Results: The study had a total of 847 public primary school pupils, comprising of 441 (52.1%) males and 406 (47.9%) females The minimum and maximum dietary diversity score (DDS) obtained from the pupils were one and five, respectively with a mean DDS of 3.67 ± 0.71. The frequency of stunting, underweight and overweight among the pupils were 39.4%, 23.0% and 6.0% respectively. Dietary diversity was significantly associated with academic performance (p=0.001), with higher odds of poor academic performance in both English language and Mathematics reported among pupils with low DDS in comparison to those with normal DDS.
Conclusion: Dietary diversity for primary school pupils should be promoted to achieve optimal academic performance amidst other benefits.
Keywords: Academic performance; Dietary diversity; Nutritional status; Pupils