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The impact of a nutrition education programme on the anthropometric nutritional status of low-income children in South Africa

  • CM Walsh (a1), A Dannhauser (a2) and G Joubert (a3)

Abstract

Objective:

The study determined the impact of a community-based nutrition education programme, using trained community nutrition advisors, on the anthropometric nutritional status of mixed-race children aged between 2 and 5 years.

Design and setting:

The programme was implemented over two years in four study areas in the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces. Two control areas were included to differentiate between the effect of the education programme and a food aid programme that were implemented simultaneously. Weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height were summarised using standard deviations from the NCHS reference median. For each of the indicators, the difference in the percentage of children below minus two standard deviations from the reference NCHS median in the initial and follow-up surveys was determined.

Subjects:

Initially 536 children were measured and, after two years of intervention, 815.

Results:

Weight-for-age improved in all areas, but only significantly in boys and girls in the urban study area, and in boys in one rural study area. No significant improvement in height-for-age occurred in any area. Weight-for-height improved significantly in the urban study area.

Conclusion:

The education programme in combination with food aid succeeded in improving the weight status of children, but was unable to facilitate catch-up growth in stunted children after two years of intervention.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email cwalsh@tofs.ac.za

References

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