A comparative assessment of day and boarding adolescent girls on their dietary intake and nutritional status at Mukamambo II secondary school in Chongwe district, Lusaka province, Zambia.
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The adolescent period is second only to infancy for rapid growth. Adolescents between 10-18 years, experience a growth spurt that increases their nutritional needs. Therefore, consumption of an inadequate diet results in delayed growth which leads to long-term consequences such as undernutrition. In low-middle-income countries like Zambia, there is limited information pertaining to adolescent girls and yet research has shown that around 16 million adolescent girls give birth every year in developing countries. Adolescents in rural areas have poor nutritional status due to inadequate dietary diversity which has become a contributor to poor optimal growth. The purpose of this study was to assess dietary intake and nutritional status of adolescent girls in a rural boarding and day secondary school at Mukamambo II Girls Secondary School in Chongwe District of Lusaka Province in Zambia. A total of 208 girls were randomly selected and surveyed for nutritional status, socio-demographics and dietary intake. Anthropometric data was collected by measuring weight to the nearest 0.1kg and height to the nearest 0.1 cm, Socio-demographic data was collected using a questionnaire and dietary intake data were collected using a food frequency questionnaire. Of the 208 girls, underweight was not detected among the day and boarding school participants based on BAZ- score. A total of 90.4% (n=188) were in the normal range of the BAZ for age. Five percent (n=4) and 12% (n=15) were overweight representing day and boarding school respectively. About 1% (n=1) in day and none of the students in the boarding school section were obese. There was evidence of a negative correlation between BAZ index and age at menarche (r = -0.141, p = 0.042). The results revealed that the girls usually consumed starchy staples such as bread (28% in the day section and 18% in the boarding section), breakfast cereals at 30% in the day section and 62% in the boarding section. Adolescents in the day section consumed more meats while adolescents in the boarding school section consumed more pulses. The study established that the majority of adolescent girls had a normal weight status, none were underweight and stunting was not prevalent. The study recommends measures to improve livelihood by incorporating nutrition education in schools in order to increase knowledge on healthy eating habits amongst adolescent girls. Key words: Adolescents; Nutrition; Dietary Intake; Nutritional Status; Menarche
The University of Zambia
- Agricultural Sciences