Nutrition knowledge and nutritional status of primary school children in QwaQwa
Objectives: To determine the nutrition knowledge and nutritional status of primary school children attending a purposively selected school in rural QwaQwa. Setting: A purposively selected public school (n = 540) in QwaQwa. Subjects: A convenience sample of all 142 school pupils, aged from nine to thirteen years. Outcome measures: The measuring instruments included a nutrition knowledge questionnaire to determine the current nutrition knowledge, and a 24-hour recall to determine food and nutrient intakes. Anthropometric measurements included weight and height, measured using standard methodologies. Results: The mean age of the respondents was 11.2 years, and all had deficient intakes of all the nutrients, except for protein, carbohydrates and thiamine. However, 53.1%, 17.1% and 14.3% of the respondents did not meet 100% of EAR for protein, carbohydrates and thiamine respectively. The anthropometric results indicated that 2.8% of the total group of respondents was severely stunted, and that 11.3% were stunted. The BMI-for-age indicated that 12.0% were overweight, and more so among the girls (15.7%) than the boys (8.3%). The respondents showed average nutrition knowledge in the majority of the questions. Conclusions: This study observed malnutrition and average nutrition knowledge, with many gaps relating to aspects, such as the role of the various food groups in the diet and safe hygiene practices.
Keywords: primary school children; nutrition knowledge; nutritional status