Influence of Childhood Obesity on Pupils’ School Attendance and Participation in Physical Activities in Lower Primary Schools,
Maero, Rose Nelima
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Obesity is a condition of abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the adipose tissue to the extent that health may be impaired. Globally it is estimated that about 155 million children are obese. Studies further reveal that childhood obesity has become a serious health epidemic, where more than a third of children aged between two to nineteen years are obese. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of obesity on pupil’s school attendance and participation in physical activities. The study objectives were to establish the prevalence of childhood obesity among pupils in lower primary schools; find out whether obesity influences pupils’ level of participation in physical activities; explore the influence of childhood obesity on pupils’ school attendance; find out the available physical facilities in schools for use during physical activities; and to establish strategies that schools have put in place to prevent childhood obesity among grade three pupils in Kasarani Sub County, Nairobi County. The study was guided by the Looking Glass Self Theory that was developed by Charles Horton Cooley (1902). Mixed method study design was employed in the study. The target population were headteachers, teachers, and grade three pupils in Kasarani sub-county. Simple random sampling and purposive sampling techniques were employed to select the sample schools and pupils respectively. From the 25 schools, 30% were selected giving a total sample of 8 schools in both Kahawa and Ruaraka educational zones. Interview schedules, anthropometric datasheets and questionnaires were used to collect data. Data were analyzed by both qualitative and quantitative procedures. Pearson Product Moment Correlation was employed to test the study variables. The significance level of 0.05 was used and the probability value was then established. Regression analysis was done using SPSS giving means, percentages and frequencies. Data was presented in tables and figures. The findings showed that the prevalence rate of childhood obesity was at 11.6 % (BMI). The findings indicated that childhood obesity did not influence pupils’ frequency on school attendance. There was also no statistical significance between childhood obesity and level of participation in physical activities and lastly, most schools were also keen on ensuring schools have at least four physical facilities or equipment. As for strategies employed by schools to mitigate childhood obesity; school feeding programs (considering nutritional value), timetabling of physical education lessons and mandatory school participation in games and sports by every pupil was reported in all the selected schools. The study recommends that a similar study can be done in other schools especially in rural areas and as well as establish intervention measures put in place to mitigate the problem.