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The purpose of this study was to assess the nutritional status and body composition of rural farmers in Osisioma Ngwa L.G.A of Abia State. Body mass index(BMI) was used to determine underweight, overweight and obese individuals among the study group. The major objective of the study was to determine dietary intake of farmers, compare it with their nutritional status and suggest improvement measures. A total of four hundred and fifty (450) farmers were used for the study and a well-structured questionnaire was used to collect information dietary pattern of farmers. Descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage) were used for data analysis. Results shows that 12% of the farmers were underweight, 26% was overweight and 3% was obese. Results on dietary practices showed that less than half (45%) of the farmer’s source of nutrition information came from the community health workers. Large number of the population (65%) reported a poor feeding practice and 76.4% skipped meals, which is an unhealthy nutritional practice. Majority (84.7%) also indicated not to have enough resources for family feeding. The result on farming activity revealed majority (86%) practiced crop farming with cassava (48.4%), garden egg (46.8%), maize/Oka (46.8%) and pumpkin/Ugu (37.5%) as the most farm produce of income. The research also showed a high underweight (72.8%) cases among those who indicated to consumed less than three meals daily. On food frequency, bread, rice and maize was the most consumed cereal and garri/fufu topped the most consumed root and tuber food produce. Seasonal variation affected fruit consumption with paw-paw (65.7%), orange (48.5%) and mango (55.0%) being the most consumed fruits. Based on the findings, enhanced improved food production technologies in line with complementary practices in order to raise their current level of food production and family consumption. Efforts should be concentrated on the prevention and control of malnutrition especially among the rural dwellers which should include healthy eating habits and food choices. Farming should be treated as a priority especially among the youths as urbanization has greatly reduced the youth’s participation in farming.


Title page i
Certification ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgement iv
Table of content v
List of tables vii
Abstract viii

1.1 Statement of Problem 1
1.2 Objectives of the study 5
1.2.1 General objectives 6
1.2.2 Specific objective 6
1.3 significance of the study 7

2.1 Dietary patterns among farmers 8
2.1.2 Factors affecting dietary attitudes of farmers 11
2.1.3 Factors affecting food consumption patterns 12
2. 1 .4 Food consumption patterns and rural development 13
2.2 Rural poverty, food access, and public health outcomes 14
2.2.1 Understanding links between rural poverty and public health  14
2.2.2 Diet and public health 16
2.3 Food access in rural Nigeria 18
2.3.1 Food and development 19
2.4 Nutritional lifestyle of people in Nigeria 20
2.4.1 Nutritional lifestyle of rural households in Nigeria 22
2.5 Food choices 23
2.6 Nutritional status of rural dwellers in Nigeria 23
2.7 Nutritional assessment 25
2.7.1 Methods of nutritional assessment 25
2.7.2 Anthropometrics 25
2.7.3 Biochemical method 26
2.7.4 Clinical methods 26
2.7.5 Dietary method 27

3.1 Area of study 28
3.2 Sample popu1ation 29
3.3 Study design 29
3.4 Sample size and sample size calculation 29
3.5 Sampling technique 30
3.6 Data collection                          31
3.6.1 Questionnaire administration 31
3.6.2 Interview 31
3.6.3 Anthropometric measurements 31
3 .6.3. 1 Weight measurement 32 BMI 32 Height Measurement 33 Waist circumference 33 Hip circumference 33 Middle upper arm circumference (muac) 34
3.6 Dietary assessment 34
3.7 Data analysis 35
3.8 Statistical analysis 35

4.1 Personal information 38
4.2 Socio-economic and demographic characteristics 37
4.3 Dietary practices 40
4.4 Farming activity 43
4.5 Nutritional status of the study population (BMI) 45
4.6 Relationship between the dietary practices and nutritional 
status of the farmers 47
4.7       Food frequency table 50

5.1 Conclusion 54
5.2 Recommendations 55


Table 4.1: Personal information 37

Table 4.2: Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics 38
Table 4.3: Dietary practices of respondents 41

Table 4.3: Continue Dietary practices 42

Table 4.4: Farming Activity of the respondents               44

Table 4.5: Body mass index of the study population 46

Table 4.6: Relationship between the dietary practices and nutritional status of farmers 49

Table  4.7a : Food frequency Table for Cereals Pasta Root and Tuber 52

Table 4.7b: Food frequency table for diary, fats, oil fruit and vegetable 53 


In Africa and many developing countries, up to 70 percent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector (FAO, 2001). Thus a sound economic development strategy for a developing country such as Nigeria must have a healthy agricultural sector. In Nigeria majority of the farmers are in the rural area (Khayesi, 2001).The right to an adequate standard of living including food security is recognized in the universal declaration of human right. It is a widely accepted fact that food is a basic necessity of life. As such, adequate intake of quality food is a key requirement for a healthy and productive life.

Food security is defined as a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO, 2002). Helen(2002) asserted that food is useful for maintaining political stability, and insuring peace among people. However, Shala and Stacey. (2012) found that many countries experience food insecurity with food supplies being inadequate to maintain their citizens’ per capita consumption. They also found that rural dwellers were most vulnerable region with regards to food insecurity. The average amount of food available per person per day in the region was 1,300calories compared to the world wide average of 2,700 calories. FAO. (2010) also concluded that Africa has more countries with food insecurity problems than any other continent.

In rural areas poverty is much more widespread than in urban areas. A high proportion of poor households consist of farmers or pastoralists who depend on agriculture as a primary food and livelihood source. Poverty is conditioned primarily by lack of access to the limited soil and water resources and by low productivity, and it is aggravated by highly unpredictable rainfall, relatively few crop and livestock options, and continuing natural resource degradation (FAO, 2002). Markets are generally weak and many policies are geared toward urban needs for the most part the provision of cheap food. Cereal farmers and pastoralists are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of subsidies on imported grains. Due to these effects farmers foods are mostly composed of particular food materials they produce, which limits them to food variety leading to malnutrition (Ogun, 2000; Khayesi, 2001).

Malnutrition is widespread in the entire country and rural areas are especially vu1erable to chronic food shortage, unbalanced nutrition poor quality and high cost of food (Akinyele, 2009). Malnutrition and nutrition related diseases continue to be problems of public health importance in Nigeria (UNICEF, 2014). Underlying these problems of malnutrition is a number of issues such as poor dietary intake, poverty, inadequate health services and limited access to nutritious foods amongst others. The rural dwellers are mostly affected. UNDP (2005) observed that 75% of Nigeria population lives in the rural area, of this number 65% are poor and directly or indirectly linked with agricultural sector. In Africa and many developing countries, up to 70 percent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector (FAO, 2001). Thus a sound economic development strategy for a developing country such as Nigeria must have a healthy agricultural sector. In Nigeria the majority of the farmers are in the rural areas (Ogun. 2000; Khayesi, 2001).

Nutritional status may be determined using direct methods of assessment such as anthropometric, clinical, and dietary and biochemical laboratory methods. Anthropometry measurement refers to the measurement of the human individual. An early tool of physical anthropology, it has been used for identification, for the purposes of understanding human physical variation, and in various attempts to correlate physical with racial and psychological traits. Anthropometric method is a measurement of body, height and weight, total skin fold thickness and arm circumference while dietary assessment is used to determine the nutrient intake of individuals or population group. These are then compared with recommended standards. Anthropometric measurements are excellent first line of attack in determining nutrition status (Wardlaw, Hampl and Disilvesto, 2007). Dietary assessment is also a good approach to identifying nutrients that are likely to be either under or over consumed by an individual, and used for determining Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) (Wardlaw, Hampi and Disikesto, 2007).

Today, anthropometry plays an important role in assessment of nutrition status of an individual which is an important component of the nutrition care of that individual. Nutritional status is the current body status of a person or a population group related to their state of nourishment which includes their level of consumption and utilization of nutrients.

Anthropometric measurement identifies ideal nutritional status when the supply of nutrients conforms to the nutritional requirements or needs of a person. An individual attains good nutrition status when the food supply is adequate and the individual is able to select, obtain, consume and utilize the foods that will meet his nutrients needs (Davidson et al., 2005).

In rural Nigeria where majority of the farmers reside are noted for poor infrastructure and inadequate basic amenities such as water and electricity (NDHS, 2003). Consequently, there is need to give additional attention such as nutrition intervention which is an opportunity cost to the productivity and health of the farmers. Thus the paper focused on nutritional status and the socioeconomic condition of farmers in rural areas of Osisioma Ngwa in Abia State Nigeria.
1.1 Statement of Problem
Farmers also called agriculturists are persons engaged in agriculture, raising living organism for food or raw materials (Dwyer, 2007). They account for the greater part of the population of any developing county such as Nigeria. In Nigeria, farmers may own the farm land or may work as labour on land owned by others. Traditional methods characterized by bush burning and hand tillage are mostly practiced by the farmers. These result in food shortage. In addition, there could be lack of Arabic land, adverse weather, low farming skills or lack of modern technology. The role of farming in the development and growth of the Nigerian economy is primarily indicated in its contribution as a source of food supply. 

In Nigeria, the percentage of food insecure households was reported to be 18% in 1986 and 40% in 2005 (Sanusi et al.,2006). 
Ayodeji (2010)asserted that the number of hungry people in the country is over 53 million, which is about 30% of the country’s total population of roughly 160 million. About52%of people in Nigeria live below the poverty line. CBN (2010) reported that the rate of increase in food production of 2.5 percent per annum does not keep pace with the annual population growth rate of 2.8 percent per annum. Fakiyesi (2001) also maintained that Nigeria’s domestic food supply has been far short of the need of the population. 

Over the period 2013 – 2016, prices were more volatile than they had been for decades. This situations are bad for farmers (who are left not knowing how and where to invest) and worse for consumers, especially the poor, who are unable to afford basic food (Sasson, 2016). These problems notwithstanding, adequate nutrition is necessary for the farmers to be fit, productive and capable of fulfilling their capabilities in life.

1.2 Objectives of the Study
1.2.1 General Objectives
The study therefore intends to assess the nutritional status of rural farmers in Osisioma Ngwa L.G.A using anthropornetric measurements and suggest the implications of the outcomes of their health and well-being.

1.2.2 Specific Objective:
1. Obtain information about the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers.

2. Assess the dietary pattern of the rural farmers using food frequency questionnaire.

3. Obtain the anthropometric measurements of the rural farmers.

4. Compare dietary pattern and anthropometric data of the farmers.
1.3 Significance of the Study
Malnutrition remains an existing problem among Nigerians especially the rural farmers. Malnutrition could be due to lack of food or socio-cultural factors of people. This study therefore intends to assess the nutritional status of rural farmers and suggest the implications of the outcomes of their health and well-being. This study will also add to our knowledge on the relationship between nutrition of people and the socio-economic characteristics of the people of Osisioma Ngwa L.G.A, the actual or real causes of malnutrition in Nigeria, determine the level of rural households’ food consumption.

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