A body of evidences showed that adolescent undernutrition is a serious public health problem in developing countries including Ethiopia. Adolescence period is the last chance for curbing the consequences of undernutrition and breaking the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and poor health. Despite this fact, they have been considered as a low-risk group for poor health and nutrition problems than the young children or the very old. This study aimed to assess prevalence of nutritional status and associated factors among adolescent girls in Afar, Northeastern Ethiopia, 2017.
A school-based cross-sectional study design was conducted among 736 adolescent girls from February15 to March 05, 2017 in Afar, Northeastern Ethiopia, 2017. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to select study participants. A pretested and structured interviewer-administered questionnaire and anthropometric measurements was used to collect the data. The collected data were entered in to Epi Data version 3.1 and exported to SPSS version 20.0 for further statistical analysis. Body Mass Index for age (thinness) and height for age (stunting) was used to assess undernutrition of adolescent girls by using the new 2007 WHO Growth Reference. Data were analyzed using bivariate and multivariable logistic regression. The degree of association between dependent and independent variables were assessed using odds ratio with 95% confidence interval, and variables with p value < 0.05 were considered significant.
The study revealed that the prevalence of thinness and stunting were 15.8% (95% CI 13.3-18.5%) and 26.6% (95% CI 23.5-29.9%), respectively. Being at an early adolescent age (AOR = 2.89, 95% CI 1.23-6.81) for thinness and being at an early adolescent age (AOR = 1.96, 95% CI 1.02-3.74), household food insecure (AOR = 2.88, 95% CI 1.15-7.21), menstruation status (AOR = 2.42, 95% CI 1.03-5.71), and availability of home latrine (AOR = 3.26, 95% CI 1.15-4.42) for stunting were the independent predictors among the adolescent girls.
The prevalence of thinness and stunting is above the public health importance threshold level. Thus, Multi-sector-centered nutrition interventions to improve nutritional status of disadvantaged adolescent girls through providing comprehensive nutritional assessment and counseling services at community, school, and health facility levels, and creating household's income-generating activities are recommended before they reach conception to break the intergenerational cycle effect of malnutrition.