Dietary Intake and Nutritional Status of School-Children in Umudike, South-East Nigeria during Covid-19 Context

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biochemistry, College of Natural Science, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria

2 Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Applied Food Sciences and Tourism Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria

3 Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, Abomey Calavi University, Cotonou, Benin Republic


Background: COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to food security in many countries including Nigeria. However, the impact of this on nutritional status of children is unknown. This study was designed to assess the dietary intake and nutritional status of school-aged children in Umudike, Nigeria within the context of COVID-19.
Methods: In this community-based cross-sectional study, the nutrient intake and status of 384 school-children (6-12 years) were studied. Socio-demographic characteristics were obtained using intervieweradministered questionnaire. Dietary intake data were collected using a pretested food frequency questionnaire and multi-pass 24 h dietary recall. The nutrient contents in foods were obtained using Nigerian food composition table. Anthropometrics were measured and wasting, overweight and obesity were defined using standard protocol.
Results: Totally, 70.5% of children consumed starchy tubers frequently. Animal proteins and fruits were infrequently consumed. Diets of 64.0% of children interviewed were characterized by a higher intake of energy above the recommended nutrient intakes (RNIs), while protein intake was below recommendations in 61.4%. Compared to RNIs, majority of the children had inadequate intakes of calcium (70.1%), iron (69.3%) and vitamins C (60.4%) indicating micronutrient inadequacies. Also, 38.3% of children skipped breakfast, while 49.5% replaced lunch with snacks and 14.06% of the children were wasted, and 16.18% were overweight, while 12.36% were obese.
Conclusion: It is therefore plausible that overconsumption of nutrientpoor diets and snacks contributed to the poor nutritional status of the children. There is need for intervention programs to address the problem and improve child nutrition in COVID-19 context.