Nutritional Status of School Children in Babile Town, Eastern Ethiopia
Background: Malnutrition is a major public health concern, for it affects the health, growth, development, and academic performance of school children. However, there is hardly any clear and updated information on the problem in Babile town; therefore, this study was designed to assess the nutritional status of the schoolchildren in Babile Town, Eastern Ethiopia.
Method: A cross-sectional study was done in two public elementary schools in Babile town from May 14 to June 8, 2012. The study included 632 primary schoolchildren who were selected by a systematic sampling technique. Data were collected through a standardized and pretested interview questionnaire. The study subjects’ height and weight was measured via anthropometric measurements, their nutritional status through anthropometric indicators of body mass index for age (BMI for age) and height-for-age, and their stool samples via parasitological procedures. The data were analyzed by AnthroPlus software and SPSS Version 16, and binary logistic regression analyses were used to identify the factors associated with malnutrition.
Result: Six hundred thirty two school children aged 5-18 years (with mean age of 10.33 ±2.73 years) were assessed, and of these 56.8% were male. It was found out that the prevalence of stunting was 11.2% and that thinness was 15.7%, whereas that of over nutrition was 11.6% (overweight accounted 8.4% and obesity 3.2%). It was also found out that 14.4% of the subjects were positive for intestinal helminthes. Hymenolepis nana was the commonest intestinal helminth (13.3%), and there was no statistically significant association between malnutrition (stunting, thinness and overnutrition) and the intestinal helminths infection, as well as age, sex, religion, ethnicity, maternal education and family size.
Conclusion: Undernutrition was increasing and over nutrition was emerging as nutritional problem among the school children in the study area. To develop a beneficial strategy to alleviate the problem, further studies that identify the factors for the coexistence of both forms of malnutrition are needed.
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