Effects of Nutrition Education on Nutrition Knowledge and Iron Status in Primary School Pupils of Gatanga District, Muranga County, Kenya
Waudo, Judith N.
Gitau, G. N.
Mbithe, David Dorcus
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School-age children are both growing and learning, and anaemia can affect cognitive function, motor performance and educational achievements of this age group. Nutrition education has not been given the priority it deserves in primary schools due to the busy school curriculum. It is in this light this study was designed for one teaching calendar year. Subjects & methods: Pupils (n=601) covering the age 11-18 years were included. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of three main Nutrition Education strategies on nutrition knowledge and iron status among primary schools children in Gatanga district. A baseline survey was conducted in 12 randomly selected schools for class six pupils and their households. Questionnaires and an interview schedule were used to collect data, with pre and post tests. The interventions schools were Mabanda, Kigio and Kirwara (experimental) and Gakurari (control school). Baseline data were analyzed by use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Nutri-Survey computer packages using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The data were coded to search for emerging themes. This led to the identification of variables and concepts of iron deficiency in the children, which was crucial to the design of the corrective measures model for the interventions. On average the mean mark, in nutrition knowledge at baseline was 30.05%. In the post-tests all experimental schools (n=154) significantly improved in nutrition knowledge, and the peer facilitated school performed best with (51.52+24.79) marks, Researcher facilitated school (48.39+22.23) and the agriculture staff (38.70+9.87). The pre-test post- test improvement in the control school (31.21+12.74) was however not significant (p>0.05). A total of 31.4 % pupils ( Sub sample n=89) were found to be anaemic after altitude adjustments at a calculated factor 0.5 for Gatanga altitude (2237m ASL). Pupils’ haemoglobin status were not significantly different (p>0.05) between the experimental and control schools at baseline, notable differences occurred in the experimental schools after the interventions. Relationship between nutrition knowledge and nutrient intake was positive and there was a statistically significant relationship between nutrition knowledge and hemoglobin levels at p<0.05 (R2=0.253, p=0.025). Anemia was found to be a significant problem and therefore the need for a comprehensive intervention strategy by all stakeholders to improve the iron status in this age group.