Port Harcourt Medical Journal

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The effect of some social factors on adolescents nutritional status in an oil-rich Niger-Delta region of Nigeria

IC Anochie, AF Adesina, PN Tabansi


Background: Adolescence is the period of transition from childhood to adulthood and the second most critical period of physical growth after the first year of life. Nutritional problems may arise from poor eating habits, snacking and consumption of nutrition deficient processed foods. Some social factors have been shown to influence their nutritional status, the result of which may have detrimental health implications as they advance into adulthood.

Aim: To determine the effect of some social factors on the nutritional status of adolescents in Port Harcourt.

Methods: A multi-staged sampling technique was used to select 960 adolescents from eightsecondary schools in Port Harcourt. Using an investigator-administered questionnaire, information on their socio-economic status, eating habits, food content and level of activity was obtained. Anthropometric measurements were taken and BMI calculated using the formula weight/height2 (kg/m2). This was then used to categorize their nutritional status. The results wereanalyzed using SPSS 14 and EPI Info 6.04. 

Results: Eight hundred and nineteen adolescents (85.3%) had normal weight, 61(6.4%) were underweight while 17 (1.8%) were obese. Significantly more males (8.9%) were underweight compared to females (3.8%); while females were significantly more overweight and obese than males. Consumption of snacks (17.4%), soft drinks (10%), higher social economic class (11.5%) and watching television for >3hrs a day (18.6%) were associatedwith overweight and obesity.

Conclusion: Social economic status, snacking and hours spent watching television have a detrimental effect on the nutritional status of adolescents in Port Harcourt.

Keywords: Adolescents, Nutritional status, Social factors

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