Quality Nutrition Education and Its Impact on Haemoglobin Levels of School Pupils of Muranga County, Kenya
Gitau, Gladys Njura
Kimiywe, Judith O.
Waudo, Judith N.
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Anaemia can dramatically affect school children with adverse impact on their cognitive development and school performance. Nutrition education has not been given the priority it deserves in primary schools due to the busy school curriculum although it is concerned with changing an individual’s behavior. It is in this light that this study was designed. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of three main nutrition education facilitators on nutrition knowledge among primary schools children in Gatanga Sub-County. The facilitators used were researcher, 5 pupil peer educators and an agriculture staff in nutrition education classes using the FAO curriculum chart. A baseline survey was conducted in 12 randomly selected schools for class six pupils’ households. Questionnaires for pupils and an interview schedule for caregivers were used to collect data, with pre and post-tests. Demographics and socio-economic factors, food production hygienic practices, dietary intake and biochemical data were obtained. The intervention schools were Mabanda, Kigio and Kirwara (experimental) and Gakurari (control school). Baseline data were analyzed by use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17 and Nutri-Survey software using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The data were coded to search for emerging themes and gaps identified. On average, the mean mark in nutrition knowledge at baseline was 30.05%. In the post-tests all experimental schools significantly improved in nutrition knowledge with the highest school scoring an average of 52% and lowest 40%. A total of 31.4 % pupils at baseline and 21.4% after interventions were found to be anaemic after altitude adjustments at a calculated factor 0.5 for Gatanga altitude (2237m ASL). Improvement in the adoption and use of the projects that enhance nutrition and health significantly occurred in the experimental schools as opposed to the control school. Pupils’ haemoglobin status were not significantly different (p>0.05) between the experimental and control schools at baseline. However, notable differences in haemoglobin levels occurred in the experimental schools after the interventions. The relationship between nutrition knowledge and nutrient intake was positive and there was a significant relationship between nutrition knowledge and haemoglobin levels at p<0.05 (r=0.253, p=0.025). Anaemia was found to be a significant problem and therefore the need for a comprehensive intervention strategy by all stakeholders. The study findings would contribute towards operationalization of the Kenyan National School Health Policy and Guidelines, the National Food Security and Nutrition Policy in prevention and control of IDA by enhancing nutrition education