Nutritional status and nutrient intake of preschool children in northern Ghana.East Afr Med J 1999; 76(9):510-5EA
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.
The study was carried out in Saboba, a rural sub-Sahelian village in northern Ghana.
Five hundred and eighteen preschool children (2.5-6 years) drawn from three kindergartens and five other localities were used.
Anthropometric measures of age, weight, and height were assessed. Blood and stool samples were taken for analyses.
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.
The poor nutritional status of the children was largely due to the low intake of essential nutrients.