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Nutritional status and nutrient intake of preschool children in northern Ghana.

Takyi EE
East Afr Med J 1999 Sep;76(9):510-5

OBJECTIVE: To determine the nutritional status and nutrient intake of preschool children in a sub-Sahelian setting so as to ascertain whether they meet the acceptable standards. DESIGN: Prospective/investigative study. SETTING: The study was carried out in Saboba, a rural sub-Sahelian village in northern Ghana. SUBJECTS: Five hundred and eighteen preschool children (2.5-6 years) drawn from three kindergartens and five other localities were used. INTERVENTION: Anthropometric measures of age, weight, and height were assessed. Blood and stool samples were taken for analyses. RESULTS: The nutritional status was generally poor, with 27% (140/519) stunted, 4.4% (23/519) wasted and 1.9% (10/519) wasted and stunted. Majority of the children (92%) were anaemic and 16.3% had deficient level of vitamin A (< 10 micrograms/dL). Total caloric intake was low (only 26.5% met RDA values) and apart from protein and iron whose RDA were met by the majority of the children (> 90%), the intake of other nutrients-calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A and provitamin A, were low and unacceptable, compared to their respective RDA values. In the case of iron, even though intake was adequate, the high anaemic rate of 92% was due to high incidence of malaria (32%), hookworm infestation, low intake of vitamin C and low bioavailability of iron from the mainly cereal diet. CONCLUSION: The poor nutritional status of the children was largely due to the low intake of essential nutrients.
PIP Abstract: This prospective study assessed the nutritional status and nutrient intake of preschool children in rural Saboba, northern Ghana. Study sample consisted of 518 preschool children aged 2.5-6 years drawn from 3 kindergartens and 5 other localities. Anthropometric measures of age, weight, and height were determined. Blood and stool samples were taken for analyses. Findings revealed that the nutritional status of these preschool children was poor, with 27% (140/519) stunted, 4.4% (23/519) wasted, and 1.9% (10/519) wasted and stunted. The majority (92%) of the children were anemic and 16.3% had a deficient level of vitamin A (10 mcg/dl). Total caloric intake was low (only 26.5% met the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) values). Apart from protein and iron, whose RDA values were met in the majority of children (90%), the intake of other nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and provitamin A were low and unacceptable compared to their RDA values. Although intake of iron was sufficient, the high anemic rate (92%) was due to high incidence of malaria (32%), hookworm infestation, low vitamin C intake, and low bioavailability of iron from the mainly cereal diet. From these findings researchers concluded that the poor nutritional status of the children was due largely to the low intake of essential nutrients.

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