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Title: Sociodemographic profile, nutritional status and dietaty intake of primary school children in Chesterville, KwaZulu-Natal
Authors: Mfeka, Portia Lungisile Nomathamsanqa 
Issue Date: 2017
Aim: The main aim of this study was to profile the primary school children`s household socio-economic status and evaluate their nutritional status for a healthy and active live in Chesterville, outside Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. The sample comprised of 250 children (147 girls and 103 boys), aged between 4 to 8 years and 9 to 13 years who volunteered to participate in the study and school was randomly selected.

Methodology: A quantitative research method was applied using various nutrition security assessment tools complemented by the socio-economic household profile to determine household`s ability to acquire food. Anthropometric status using WHO growth indicators assessed stunting, wasting and underweight status of the children. This was followed by the 24-hr recall and food frequency questionnaire to probe children`s diet diversity. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse data.

Result: The anthropometric indices showed that 10.3% of the children were severely stunted (<-3SD height-for-age), 33.5% were stunted (<-2SD), 2.9% were severely wasted (<-3SD BMI-for age), 5.3% were wasted (<-2SD) with 68.5% at possible risk of overweight (>+1SD), 24.3% of the children were overweight is (>+2SD) and 5.6% were obese (>+3SD) according to the WHO z-scores. The results indicate the prevalence of obesity which could be a result of the high consumption of carbohydrate dense food in the group surveyed. The parents/ caregivers and the children need nutrition education on healthy eating habits to improve their lifestyle.

The socio-demographic profile of the households indicated that 61% of the parents/ caregivers were unemployed and 39% were employed. Seventy three percent of the households were headed by women, 50% of the parents/ caregivers owned their homes, 63.6% had a tap inside the house and 94% had access to a flush toilet/sewerage system inside the house, 38% had passed grade 8 – the highest level of education, 14.4% of the parents/caregivers earned less than R2000 per month, and 10.4% earned less than R2500 per month. The low-income level, lack of post matric qualification in some of the parents /caregivers and the high unemployment rate of 61% could be a contributory factor to malnutrition in this community. Most of the parents/caregivers resided in the township and 94% lived in brick houses, while 35.6% lived in a shack that was built outside the house as an extension of the house. Most of the parents/caregivers (88%) purchased their food from a supermarket. Thirty-five-point two percent of the parents/ caregivers indicated not having enough money to spend on food, 32.8% indicated that often there is not enough money to spend on food, and 15% indicted that there is always not enough money to spend on food. Seventy-five-point two percent of the parents/ caregivers purchased their food once a month while 12.4% purchased their food once a week. Township South Africans tend to purchase food instead of growing their own food because of the lack of vegetating space. The lack of buying power and food shortages eventually leads to malnutrition. The lack of higher education in this community decreases the chances of permanent employment as a result the low-income bracket and the inability to purchase food in some occasions.

The food group diversity score showed that 64% of the respondents consumed food from nine food groups. The carbohydrate group had the highest score (6.08±1.322) followed by the vegetable group (4.76±1.383) and the meat group (4.51±1.269). The mean carbohydrate intake was higher than the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for girls and boys (>100% of the DRIs). The intake of fruit was lower than the >400g goal as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The consumption of fibre was low with both girls and boys consuming <100% of the fibre requirements. Iron was consumed by 54.6% of the girls in the required amount of 100% of the DRIs. The energy intake for both girls and boys was 7025.8±16278 and 7205.4± 1860.834 respectively. The girls’ consumption of protein was 11.9% and boys’ consumption was 11.4% and this is within the recommended 10-15% of the WHO.

Conclusion: The results indicate both overnutrition and undernutrition in children that were part of the survey. The top 20 food intake indicated inadequate eating patterns and that diets consisted of energy dense foods, such as carbohydrates and fats which could be responsible for obesity in the children. The high unemployment and low-income rate and inadequate money to spend on food can contribute to the prevalence of stunting and wasting in the children. Nutrition education and nutrition interventions such as focus on healthier foods, healthier methods of preparing food, a balance diet and physical activity are necessary to improve quality of life and improve health.
Submitted in the fulfillment of the requirements of a Masters of Applied Science in Food and Nutrition, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Applied Sciences)

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