Nigerian Journal of Nutritional Sciences

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Nutritional status and eating patterns of preschool children in a community in south-west Nigeria

Oyepeju Mary Onifade, Kalu Jerffson Okorie, Jesse Abiodun Otegbayo


Background: Malnutrition, an important global health problem, affects large numbers of children in developing countries hence making child malnutrition a major concern in these regions. The body’s capability to utilize appropriately adequate nutrient intake –quality and quantity, in order to meet its metabolic needs of health and fitness describes the concept of nutritional status.

Objective: This study assessed the nutritional status of preschool children and their eating patterns.

Methods: The study design was a cross-sectional survey carried out in a semi-urban community in south-western Nigeria. The sample consisted of 220 preschool children. A pretested questionnaire was used to assess the eating patterns of the children. Anthropometric measurements were carried out to determine the nutritional status of the children. Data generated was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. Cross tabulation and Chi square test were used to examine relationships between variables. Statistical significance was established at p < 0.05.

Results: The overall prevalence of malnutrition in this study was low with stunting, underweight and wasting recording 8.1%, 7.7% and 1.9%, respectively thereby making stunting the most common malnutrition indicator in the study area. A large proportion (78.2%) of the children ate more than three times daily while 96.4% of the children constantly had regular specified number of meals daily.

Conclusion: It is imperative that parents promote healthy eating habits in their children. This would go a long way in improving the health outcome of the child.

Keywords: Nutritional status, eating pattern, preschool children, meal intake

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