Dietary fat intake and nutritional status indicators of primary school children in a low-income informal settlement in the Vaal region
AbstractBackground: The objective of this study was to examine growth indicators, serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as dietary fat intakes usually associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in
healthy primary school children.
Method: The respondents in this study included a convenience sample of 97 primary school children aged 6-13 years from a selected school.
Anthropometric measurements (weight and height) and three 24-hour recall questionnaires were completed for each child. Registered nurses
drew blood from the vena cephalica of seated children after an eight-hour fast.
Results: The results of this study indicated that stunting, underweight and thinness were prevalent in this group of children. The prevalence
rate for stunting (12.5%) was lower than the national prevalence rate of 20%, whereas the prevalence rate for underweight (15.1%) was
higher than the national prevalence rate of 10%. Overweight was prevalent in only 1% of the sample, and more so in boys (2.3%) than
girls (0%). None of the children in this study were obese. Serum cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels were within the normal
range. However, the mean serum LDL cholesterol levels were very high. The total dietary fat intakes showed significant relationships with
total dietary cholesterol (r = 0.324, p-value = 0.001), linolenic acid (r = 0.605, p-value < 0.0001) and linoleic acid (r = 0.831, p-value
< 0.0001) intakes.
Conclusion: In this poor community the dietary intake patterns showed a balanced macronutrient intake, despite a low energy intake, when
compared with the estimated average requirements. The low energy intake was reflected in the prevalence of stunting, underweight and
thinness, with a very low prevalence of overweight and no obesity. Furthermore, most of the serum lipid profiles reflected a low risk of these
children acquiring CVD.
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