Nutritional status of children on the National School Nutrition Programme in Capricorn District, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Background. School feeding programmes are intended to alleviate short-term hunger, improve nutrition and cognition of children, and provide incomes to families.
Objectives. To assess the nutritional status of children receiving meals provided by the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in Capricorn Municipality, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Methods. The setting was 18 randomly selected schools on the NSNP in Capricorn District. The total sample comprised 602 randomly selected schoolchildren from grades 4 to 7, aged 10 (26.6%), 11 (35.4%) and 12 (35.4%). Socioeconomic characteristics, anthropometric measurements, dietary patterns and school attendance were determined. Children were interviewed to assess their nutritional status using a validated questionnaire. Descriptive statistics such as means, standard deviations (SDs) and ranges were used for socioeconomic parameters and dietary patterns, and z-scores for anthropometric data.
Results. The results showed that boys (9.5%) and girls (7.8% ) were underweight. The prevalence of stunting in the sample was 11.3% for boys and 7.4% for girls, whereas boys (3.6%) and girls (4.2%) were wasted, with a z-score of –2 SD. School attendance was good.
Conclusion. The nutritional status of most subjects in the study was within the acceptable range as indicated by the assessment of growth using anthropometric measurements.