Salahuddin Bari, Ehsan Qadir, Muhammad Adeel and Saad Bahussein
Background: Malnutrition is a health problem affecting growth and development of young children. Children under 15 years of age are the main victims of malnutrition. Malnutrition is attributed to a series of diverse etiological factors.
Objective: To determine the nutritional status of the children of various age groups of school going children of Army Public School and to find out the association of socio-demographic variables and dietary habits with nutritional status.
Methodology: It was a descriptive cross-sectional study conducted at Army Public School, Okara. Sample was selected through non-probability consecutive sampling. Duration of study was 6 months (Dec 2017 to May 2018). The study was conducted after getting formal approval from Institutional Ethical Review Board AFPGMI. The children were randomly selected for study from the enrollment register available in the principal’s office. Participation in the study was voluntary with guaranteed confidentiality. The participants were given full right to quit study without mentioning reason at any time during data collection. After ruling out the exclusion criteria, 500 children fulfilling inclusion criteria were selected for study. An informed written consent was obtained from all selected children and their parents to take part in the study. Data for the assessment of nutritional status was obtained using anthropometry, biochemical laboratory test and eating habits / food preferences of the children.
Results: In our study, mean age of children included in the study was 9.58±1.72 years. Out of 500 children, 252 (50.2%) were male while 248 (49.8%) female. The mean height of children was 134.88±11.69 cm. The mean weight of children was 30.25±8.47 kg. The mean OFC of children was 51.43±1.75 cm. Out of total 500 children, 85 (17%) were having BMI less than 18.5, 338 (67.6%) were having BMI within 18.5–24.9 while 77 (15.4%) children having BMI within 25-29.9. None of child was observed with BMI of ≥30. Among 85 children with below normal BMI, 63 had mild malnutrition (BMI between 17-18.4), 19 had moderate malnutrition (BMI 16-16.9) while 3 had severe malnutrition (BMI < 16)
Conclusion: Malnutrition is a significant public health problem among preschool and school going children. And improving socio-economic condition along with literacy of mothers and preventing infections through personal hygiene might help in improving the nutritional status of children.