Consequences of early malnutrition for subsequent social and emotional behaviour of children in Ghana

  • Lily Yaa Appoh Department of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway
Keywords: Achenbach CBCL, child, nutrition

Abstract

The consequences of mild-to-moderate malnutrition during early childhood for social and emotional status at ages eight to 16 were investigated in this study. Fifty-four Ghanaian children who were malnourished during the first three years of life were compared with 54 of their classmates who were not malnourished. Mean age for both groups was 12 years (malnourished SD = 2.2; comparison SD = 2.3). Their social and emotional status was assessed with Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist and Teacher's Report Form. Data on the children's socioeconomic background were also collected. The previously malnourished children were found to be more anxious, sad, depressed and withdrawn than the children who were not malnourished. They were also perceived to have poorer social relationships with others and more attention and thought problems than the comparison children. Aggressive and delinquent behaviour were not found to be related to the nutritional status of the children. No significant associations were found between the socioeconomic variables studied and the social and emotional behaviour of the children. These results show that mild-to-moderate malnutrition during early childhood has negative consequences for the children's emotional and social behaviour and that these consequences are still present several years after the episode of malnutrition.

Keywords: Achenbach CBCL, child, nutrition

Journal of Psychology in Africa 2004, 14(2): 87–94
Published
2005-01-06
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1433-0237