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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Rural Outreach Program
ISSN: 1684-5358
EISSN: 1684-5358
Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013, pp. 8077-8090
Bioline Code: nd13067
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013, pp. 8077-8090

Aurisinkala-Appadoo, S; Oogarah-Pratap, B & Ruggoo, A


This study investigated the nutritional status of school children in deprived areas of Mauritius and determined whether specific socio-economic factors were associated with poor nutritional status among children. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 240 primary school children aged 8-12 years old. Out of 27 schools located in the deprived regions of Mauritius, eight of them were selected for the study. The data collection tools included a questionnaire, anthropometric measurements (weight and height) and a 24-hour dietary recall. A questionnaire was used to gather information on the socioeconomic profile of the children and their eating patterns. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) BMI-for-age and stature-for-age percentiles were used to identify children who were stunted (<5th percentile stature-for-age), underweight (< 5th BMI-for age percentile), overweight (85th to 95th percentile BMI-for age) or obese (≥95th percentile BMI-for-age). Findings revealed that the main meals taken by the children included breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ninety two percent of the children mentioned taking breakfast in the morning; the most commonly consumed food commodities being bread, margarine, cheese, jam and tea; milk, yoghurt, fruits or fruit juice were rarely consumed. Packed lunches consisted mainly of eggs and convenience foods such as sausages without any vegetables. Poor snacking habits, that is, high consumption of salty corn-based snacks, were identified among these children. Age of school children was significantly associated (p<0.05) with the amount of money spent on snacks at school. Anthropometric measurements revealed the prevalence of both undernutrition and overnutrition among the children. Thirty seven per cent of the children were underweight, four per cent were overweight, three per cent were obese and there were no cases of stunting. The study findings indicate that the children are being fed the wrong kinds of foods or the wrong proportions. Thus, there is a need for local education and health authorities to develop nutrition education programmes that are contextually sensitive to specifically target school children and parents in deprived areas of Mauritius.

nutritional; status; deprived; children; Mauritius

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