Nutrition security goes beyond the concept of access and availability of food, and encompasses the use and utilization of food in quality and quantity, as well as the distribution of food within a household. Food security is affected by many factors, either at a national, regional, household or even individual level. This study was aimed at assessing the household food insecurity and anthropometric status of school aged children in Ubakala, Umuahia South Local Government Area Abia State. A total of 207 children were randomly selected because of the large amount of children in the community using a structured questionnaire that is comprised of personal, socioeconomic, food security and anthropometric characteristics. Data were analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics using SPSS version 22.0. There were 58.5% male and 41.1% female. Some (44.9%) of the subjects had fathers were civil servant, very few (0.5%) of the respondents fathers were bankers and okada riders. Some (11.6%) and many (42.0%) of the subjects had mothers and fathers who earned N 31, 000 and above.
Most (63.2%) of the studied households were food secure as only some (36.8%) were moderate food insecure. The coping strategies for improving household food security adopted studied. A vast majority (79.7%) of the subjects adopted subsistent farming as a coping strategy while (13.5%) respectively adopted borrowing also (6.3%) adopted loan as coping strategy, however few (0.5%) adopted government assistance. Subsistent farming was adopted by majority of the subject as few adopted borrowing, loan and other assistances this could be because of the fact that this study was conducted in a rural area unlike elsewhere in an economically vulnerable. A little above half (52.9%) of the male subjects and some (47.1%) of the female subjects were moderately stunted. Moderate stunting (41.2%) was more among children 8-9 years but lower (23.5%) in children 6-7 years. This result of this study showed that a little above half of the male subjects and some of the female subjects were moderately stunted. Underweight and wasting was prevalent among other males and females. In household food insecurity, many of the studied household were food secured as only some were moderate food insecure. In coping strategy majority adopted subsistent farming as only few adopted borrowing, loan and government assistant as coping strategy.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1 Introduction 1
1.2 Statement of Problem 4
1.3 Objectives of the Study 5
1.3. 1 The Specific Objectives: 5
1.4. Significance of the Study 6
2.1 Food Security 7
2.1.1 Factors Affecting Food Security 10 2.2 Determinants of the Food Security Status and the Outcomes 16
2.2.1 The Outcome Variables: Nutritional Status and Quality of Life 16
2.2.2 The Immediate Determinants 19
2.2.3 The Underlying Determinants 20
2.3 Food Security and Anthropometric Status of Children 21
2.4 Other Risk Factors Associated With the Anthropometric Status of Children 24
2.4.1 Child Characteristics and Child Malnutrition 24
18.104.22.168 Age of the Child 24
22.214.171.124 Gender 26
2.4.2 Household Characteristics and Child Malnutrition 27
126.96.36.199 Parental Characteristics 27
188.8.131.52 Other Household Characteristics 29
2.4.3 Community Characteristics and Child Malnutrition 33
MATERIALS AND METHODS
3.1 Study Design 36
3.2 Area of Study 36
3.3 Population of the Study 36
3.4 Sampling and Sampling Techniques 37
3.4.1 Sample Size 37
3.4.2 Sampling Techniques 38
3.5 Preliminary Activities 38
3.5.1 Preliminary Visits 38
3.5.2 Informed Consent 38
3.5.3 Ethical Approval 38
3.5.4 Training of Research Assistants 39
3.6 Data Collection 39
3.6.1 Questionnaire Administration 39
3.6.2 House Hold Food Security Measurements 40
3.6.3 Anthropometric Measurements 40
3.6.4 Dietary Assessments 41
3.7 Data Analysis 41
3.8 Statistical Analysis 42
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
4.1 Socio-Economic Characteristics of Households 43
4.2 Household Food Insecurity Status of the School Aged Children 47
4.3 Anthropometric Status of the School Aged Children 51
4.4 Relationship between Food Insecurity and Anthropometric Status of School Aged Children. 57
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
5.1 Conclusion 59
5.2 Recommendation 59
LIST OF TABLES
Table 4.1 Background characteristics of school age children 44
Table 4.2 Socio-economic characteristics of parents of school aged children 46
Table 4.3 Household food insecurity status of the school aged children 48
Table 4.4 Coping strategies for improving household food security adopted by households 50
Table 4.5 Height-for-age status of school age children 52
Table 4.6 Weight-for-age status of school aged children 54
Table 4.7 BMI-for-age status of school aged children 56
Table 4.8 Relationship between food insecurity and anthropometric status of school aged children. 58
Food insecurity is a problem of global health concern, the prevalence of malnutrition remains on the increase among school aged children. Food insecurity is relatively new concept emerging ideas about the central place of food in the communities, at times it refers to a limited food access by some people in communities at certain times throughout the year to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food insecurity remains a major global concern despite efforts by national governments and the international community. Latest estimates show that 870 million people were undernourished between 2010 and 2012, of which 852 million were in developing countries (FAO, 2012). Where food is available, the diets consumed are normally monotonous; cereal based and lack diversity (Bwibo and Neumann, 2003). These diets, many of which are staples, are low in micronutrient content or are in forms not easily absorbed when ingested (Ruel, 2002). The diets often contain little or no fresh vegetables and fruits, and are low in animal source foods rich in iron and Vitamin A (Nungo et al., 2012).
Recent food price surges have increased vulnerability while increases in income and urbanization trends in developing countries have also affected diet quality, resulting in more and more households consuming diets rich in high fat and sugars (Ruel, 2002). These poor diets have led to an increase in the incidence of malnutrition, present in many countries in the form of under or over-nutrition. Over-nutrition encompasses excessive intake of macronutrients and/or energy foods, while under-nutrition refers to micronutrient deficiencies most commonly vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc and protein-energy malnutrition (Faber and Wenhold, 2007). Many countries suffer from the double burden of malnutrition, where a large number of households with inadequate diets and micronutrient deficiencies suffer from under-nutrition while at the same time the existence of poor diets and diseases increase the prevalence of over-nutrition.
Many plans and strategies have been put in place to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition. An example is the Millennium development project, which includes two goals directly linked to food insecurity and child well-being; Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1 and 4.
The widespread presence of poverty in developing countries appears to worsen food insecurity and malnutrition. Majority of the world’s population living on less than a dollar a day are found in developing countries. Poverty is a major determinant of under-nutrition, with previous studies showing that the proportion of children with the highest rates of malnutrition belong to households classified as poor (Grantham-McGregor et al., 2007). Impoverished communities are often more at risk of poor nutritional statuses due to frequent exposure to risk factors and infections caused partly by crowding and inadequate sanitation (Caufield et al., 2006). Other factors such as limited resources, cultural practices and beliefs, and biological weaknesses also contribute to poor nutritional statuses and result in distressing health consequences in women of reproductive age, and in children as well (Caufield et al., 2006).
The presence of food security and proper nutritional status can have long lasting positive effects on the growth of a country. Food security is associated with better school performance and increased number of years of schooling (Alderman et al., 2003). On the other hand, good nutrition can have a positive impact on future wages and income, and it is for this reason that early childhood development is considered a long term driver of a country’s economic growth and development (Hoddinot et al., 2008). In contrast, nutritional deficiencies in school-age children can result in poor school enrolment, poor classroom behaviours and increased number of drop outs (von Braun et al., 2002). Children who are malnourished spend less time in school and have lower education outcomes as compared to their peers who are not (Caufield et al., 2006). Since the intellectual development of a child is affected by malnutrition, the likelihood of their future productivity and earning potential being affected is high; especially since children who are malnourished, if not properly taken care of, are likely to be malnourished as adults. This then means a reduction in the number of working hours, and a possible reduction in income.
At a micro level, food insecurity can have serious effects on intra-household arrangements. It often results in inefficient and or ineffective income-earning decisions in that households may be forced to dispose of their assets in the short term in an attempt to meet current food security needs but in the process, increase their vulnerability or risk to future food problems or shortages (von Braun et al, 2006). In addition, people can destroy their environments and habitats in an attempt to secure their food supply, causing damages that may be irreversible (von Braun et al., 2002). Poor nutritional status amongst children can also affect the ability of household members to generate resources.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Nigeria continues to battle high food insecurity levels, which has been identified as an underlying cause of malnutrition and child mortality, and which seem to be continuously fuelled by natural calamities, and escalating food prices. In addition, the government acknowledges that the nation faces inadequate dietary diversification. The country also continues to record high rates of child malnutrition. A number of studies have been carried out with a view to identify the risk factors associated with child malnutrition (Bloss et al., 2004; Kabubo-Mariara et al, 2006; Lang’o, 2011). However, those that have sought to study the link between food security and the anthropometric status of children are scarce. On a more specific note, studies that have attempted to look at the impact of dietary diversification on the nutritional status of children are rare. To effectively fight malnutrition and household food insecurity, it is important that additional researches be carried out to understand how food insecurity impacts on the anthropometric status of children. Only then can proper measures be developed and implemented, and cause a positive and significant change in the nutritional status of children.
A number of studies (de Onis et al., 2004; Black et al., 2008; Joseph et al., 2014) have been carried out to establish the risk factors associated with child malnutrition and household food insecurity, few have attempted to study the link between food security and the anthropometric status of children. This study focuses on the assessment of household food insecurity and anthropometric status of school aged children in Ubakala, Umuahia South Local Government Area Abia State.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study are to assess the household food insecurity and anthropometric status of school aged children in Ubakala, Umuahia South Local Government Area Abia State.
1.5. 1 The specific objectives:
The specific objectives of the study are to;
i. assess the socio-economic status of the households.
ii. assess household food insecurity status.
iii. assess the coping strategies adopted by households in food insecurity.
iv. assess the anthropometric status of the school aged children using anthropometric.
v. determine the relationship between food insecurity and anthropometric statuses of school aged children.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Information obtained from this study will be beneficial to both the public sector as well as the private sector in combating household food insecurity in other to bring about a long term development in the country.
This study will be of beneficial to the parents of school aged children in fighting malnutrition through provision of adequate balanced diet for the household. The result of the study would x-ray the relationship between the consumption pattern of the children and their anthropometric status.
The documented results when published will serve as a guide to the senatorial district, local government, and non-governmental organizations to institute proper nutrition programs. It would also be a useful tool to Abia State Government, Ministry of Health to plan nutrition intervention and implement a nutrition program for school-aged children in the State.
The results from this study will also help food and agricultural sectors to focus attention on producing and promoting high quality food crops to reduce the global burden of malnutrition.
These results from this study will serve as a baseline for further study.
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