Original Research

The nutritional status of Grade 1 pupils, in Bloemfontein, South Africa and its association with socio-demographic data

Hanneke Brits, Riana Augustyn, Elzette Bezuidenhout, Marisa Cillie, Roelof J.v. Vuuren, Gina Joubert
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 5, No 1 | a475 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v5i1.475 | © 2013 Hanneke Brits, Riana Augustyn, Elzette Bezuidenhout, Marisa Cillie, Roelof J.v. Vuuren, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2012 | Published: 06 May 2013

About the author(s)

Hanneke Brits, Department of Family Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Riana Augustyn, Department of Family Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Elzette Bezuidenhout, Department of Family Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Marisa Cillie, Department of Family Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Roelof J.v. Vuuren, Department of Family Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department Biostatistics, University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Despite the fact that UNICEF declared freedom from hunger and malnutrition abasic human right in 1948, more than 20 million children were severely malnourished in 2010 and a further 170 million were stunted. Malnutrition attributes to > 50% of child deaths by potentiating infectious diseases.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the extent of malnutrition in Grade 1 pupils in public sector schools in Bloemfontein. An objective of the study was to identify relationships between socio-economic parameters and malnutrition.

Method: Grade 1 pupils from ten public schools in Bloemfontein, selected from a random table, were included in the study. Their parents/caregivers gave informed consent and completed a questionnaire regarding baseline characteristics and feeding practices at home.The children were then weighed and measured, and the 2007 WHO Growth Reference forschool-aged children and adolescents used as reference.

Results: A total of 187 children were included in the study. The combination of underweight, wasting and stunting gave an 18% prevalence of malnutrition in this study. A BMI of less than the fifth percentile occurred in 27% of the pupils. Factors positively associated withmalnutrition included: Absence of a fridge and/or running water in the house and loweducation and/or unemployment of parents. Illness in the previous month was reported by 41% of the malnourished children.

Conclusion: As socio-economic factors that contribute to malnutrition are now known, teachers will be able to identify and refer children with or at risk of malnutrition and indirectly decrease child mortality.


Keywords

Nutrition; socio-demographic; school; children

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