UI researchers say high percentage of Oyo school children malnourished

May 29, 2024

A recent survey by the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, shows that 99.9 per cent of school-age children do not receive enough calcium and other minerals needed for normal growth.

The data collection carried out by a group of researchers from the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics discovered that several pupils consumed a lot of unhealthy food deficient in fruit, legumes, and animal protein.

A co-lead investigator in the survey, Dr Oluwaseun Ariyo, revealed the outcome of the survey during a one-day workshop tagged ‘Ibadan Kids Nutrition and Health Survey’, held at the institution.

According to him, an alarming number of children do not consume the recommended amounts of calcium and other minerals for their age.

He also noted that students who do not take appropriate care of their health are less able to study.

Ariyo disclosed that the study on children’s food intake was conducted in five local governments – Ibadan North, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast.

He said, “Seven per cent of the children suffer from overweight and obesity, more than 10 per cent suffer undernutrition, indicating that malnutrition is still a big problem in the state, meaning, there’s an urgent need for government and other stakeholders to put in necessary interventions to address it.”

Ariyo suggested that soya beans, peanuts and vegetables, which are sources of micronutrients should be included in children’s diet.

“These children are growing and we must know that we send them to school, many of us pay huge amounts as school fees, and if these children are not properly fed, they will not get the best out of school.

“So it means that all the investment we made in their schooling may not make the desired results, so we must pay attention to their meals.”

He appealed to the government to control the type of foods children have access to in their school environments.

Ariyo explained, “In many of the schools, they have access to sugary drinks and drinks that don’t contribute to their micronutrient intake. So, we must ensure we promote the development and consumption of healthy snacks in all our schools.

“We also identified that this problem of malnutrition is higher among older children than the younger pupils and these older children are the ones that are not presently benefitting from the school feeding programme.

“So it is important that we extend the school feeding programme to cover more children, from primary four to six.”

Earlier in an address, the principal investigator in the study, Professor Rasak Sanusi called for a holistic approach to end malnutrition among school-age children.

Also speaking, the provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Professor Olayinka Omigbodun identified nutrition as a foundation for physical and mental health, expressing displeasure that many children still go to school without breakfast.

The professor of mental health, who said a nation’s wealth depends on the mental state of the populace, challenged the government to prioritise nutrition of school-age children.

He stressed that their brain cells would not develop without good nutrition.


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