Physical growth and nutritional status assessment of school children in Enugu, Nigeria
Background: Physical growth of a child is a reflection of its state of nutrition. In some developing countries such as Nigeria with changing economy and rapidly growing population, the nutritional status of the children is a reflection of the general well‑being of the society.
Materials and Methods: This was a descriptive cross‑sectional study in which participants were selected using a multistage sampling method. Heights and weights of randomly selected school children aged 6–12 years were measured using standard protocols. Weight‑for‑age, height‑for‑age, and body mass index (BMI)‑for‑age expressed as Z‑scores were used to characterize the nutritional status. Descriptive statistics was used to determine the frequency and standard deviations (SDs) of the anthropometric measurements. Age and gender differences in the mean body weight, height, and BMI were evaluated using an independent samples t‑test. Significant levels were set at P < 0.05.
Results: A total of 1305 males and 1311 females were enrolled in the study. The mean age was 8.9 ± 1.9 years. Their mean height, weight, and BMI were 136.6 ± 10.2 cm, 29.7 ± 7.7 kg, 15.7 ± 2.4 kg/m2, respectively. Their mean ± SD scores of the WAZ, HAZ, and BAZ were 0.33 ± 1.20, 0.78 ± 1.17, and − 0.51 ± 1.27, respectively. A majority (78.9%, 2090/2616) were in the normal growth category. Wasting, overweight, obesity, underweight, and stunting were noted in 9.3% (243/2616), 6.3% (166/2616), 4.4% (117/2616), 0.9% (26/2616), and 0.4% (13/2616) of the children, respectively. Wasting was more in males (P = 0.069), and overweight was more in females (P = 0.138).
Conclusion: A majority of the children have normal growth with the remainder in both extremes of malnutrition. Institution of school‑feeding programs in all Nigerian schools as well as nutrition education/campaign directed at parents and their children will help forestall the double burden of under‑ and over‑nutrition among our children.
Keywords: Children, obesity, stunting, underweight, wasting