Determinants Of Wasting And Obesity Among School Aged Children Using Anthropometric Measurement

Medical and Health Science Project and Seminar Material

Determinants Of Wasting And Obesity Among School Aged Children Using Anthropometric Measurement

Chapter One


Background of the Study

Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and increased health problems, it is commonly caused by a combination of excessive intake of food, lack of physical exercise, endocrine disorder, genetic susceptibility, medication or psychiatric illness. (Gilbert, Harness, Optiz, 2007) World Health Organization (WHO) (2009) View obesity as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health, they also noted that the main cause of obesity is as a result of imbalance in the energy taken and the energy discharged.

This means that some people on a daily basis eat more calories than their body can burn, and these may result to excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body. Not every fat individual or person is obesed because an obesed person or individual can only be determined using an instrument known as body mass index (B.M.I),So it is when a person’s weight is divided with the square of his or her height, it what remains is above 30kg/m2such individual is then considered an obesed person.

Sweeting (2007) stated that the dangers of obesity is that it increases the lifespan of various diseases, particularly heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and respiratory problems and that it is seen as the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. In view of this, obesity can be seen in various stages of life ranging from childhood to adulthood. Obesity is becoming much more common in childhood. Most often, it begins between the ages of five and six and above.

Childhood obesity has become a serious health challenge in many countries of the world. Recently, statistics show that 16% of children 6-11 years old are overweight, an additional 14.3% are at high risk of becoming overweight, the prevalence of overweight continues to increase during the school age and adolescent stages (Mosha and Fungo 2010). Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and teenagers. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height.

Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra weight often introduce on the path of the children some health challenges such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which was once regarded as an adult diseases. (Center for disease control and prevention 2015) Childhood obesity also has a serious and dramatic implications in individual’s health such as cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis orthopedic disorders and respiratory disorders and respiratory disorders (NIH 2007).

In short run, obesity has psychosocial effects on children where by social isolation and low self-esteem of obese children lead to overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, which in turn lead to depression. Many obese children perform poor on academic activities because of stress and anxiety, which interfere with their learning and create a vicious circle in which the over-growing worry increases the declining academic performance.

(Lobstein 2010) Excessive weight gain is a precursor to a wide variety of physiological aberrations that ultimately predispose the person to morbidity and mortality later in life. Studies have revealed that many adult chronic and non-communication disease have their origin from childhood. (UNICEF 2011). Moreover, wasting is the opposite of obesity which indicate serious loss of body weight, a situation whereby one becomes thin and weak.

According to UNICEF (2007) Wasting is a strong predictor of mortality among school age children under five and above. It is usually the result of acute significance food shortage or disease. Wasting which affects about 10% of all children in low- income countries, is the result of insufficient calories as well as poor quality of food, unsafe water and poor environment. Wasted children weigh far less than their counter part within the same age range. Wasting may be treated with variety of supplementary foods either with or without animal protein. However, the quality of food affects the speed of recovery and if not well sustained May likely occur. In extreme cases, wasted children suffered severe acute malnutrition, a life threatening condition.

Srivastava (2012) also noted that wasting in children is a symptom of acute under nutrition, usually a consequence of insufficient food intake of a high incidence of infectious diseases, especially diarrhea and other diseases. Wasting in turn impairs the functioning of the immune system and can lead to increased severity and elongated susceptibility to infectious diseases and also increased risk for death.(Bose 2007).

Statement of the Problem

Obesity and wasting is a serious challenge facing the whole world at large and Nigeria is not left out, therefore it becomes important on how to avoid obesity and wasting in our contemporary society. UNICEF report 2013, stated that 42 million children under the age of five were either overweight or obese. In addition, 44%of them were diabetic, while23% of them were heart disease and 41% of these disease were attributed to overweight and obesity. Wasting which is one of the major problem of school age children, occur maybe due to lack of adequate nutritional meal, drinking of unsafe water and poor environment.

Wasting and obesity in children causes direct structural damage to the brain and impair the immune system, making children more vulnerable to almost all infectious diseases and less interested in the environment they live in. The combination of infectious diseases and poor environmental sanitation will likely affects the children’s health and their nutritional status thus reducing a child’s learning opportunities.

Also, children who are wasted are more likely to have stunted growth in adulthood, have poor educational achievement and economic status, and give birth to smaller infants. Girls in this category may develop small pelvic which will result to difficulty during child birth. It is important to note that well-nourished children brought up in a healthy and nurturing environment, grow stronger, taller and become adults that are more productive, maintaining high levels of functionality and produce healthy offspring in the future.

In a more severe case, obesity in children is associated with some health challenges, children who are obese are at greater risk for b0one and joint problems, sleep apnea and some of the health challenges those children may face may be, being absent in school, while some of the social and psychological problems they might face include stigmatization, poor self-esteem, susceptibility to depression, anxiety etc. that is why the researcher dim it necessary to investigate on wasting and obesity among school aged children in abakaliki metropolis

Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to discover the determinants of wasting and obesity among school aged children using anthropometric measurement in abakaliki metropolis.

Specifically, the study tends to

  1. To ascertain the nutritional status of school age children.
  2. Ascertain problems associated with wasting.
  3. Ascertain problems associated with obesity..
  4. Determine the possible solution to alleviate wasting and obesity.

Significance of the study

The information from this study will be beneficial to the school aged children, parents, nutritionist, health practitioners and government. The study will benefit the school aged children because they will be educated on the right food to eat and when this is done, the children will grow healthy and develop properly in all ramification- academically, socially and otherwise.

Parents will also benefit from this study because it will enable them to have a good knowledge of healthy foods needed for their children. Economically some of the money parents spend on junk food and other food material which may have little or no nutritional value will be saved for other things in the family.

To the nutritionist: if this study will be adopted by the government it may create job opportunity for the nutritionist, for instance the issue of primary school lunch going on in some states in the country, if they want to achieve this objective, the government should employ only the qualified nutritionist to give advice on issues related to food intake and other related vital information concerning the children’s health.

Health practitioners will also benefit because it will give them an insight on the causes of wasting and obesity, and how to counsel patients who are obese and wasted.

The result of the study will be of a great benefit to the government because they will save money they would have been using to treat the wasted and obese children, this is so because the study will educate the children on the right food to eat.

Scope of the study

This study sought to find out the determinants of wasting and obesity among school aged children using anthropometric measurement in Abakaliki metropolis. The study aimed to ascertain the health problems associated with wasting, health problems associated with obesity, assessing the nutritional status of school age children and to determine the possible solution to alleviate wasting and obesity among school age children. The respondents will be the teachers and the school age children.

Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study

  1. What is the nutritional status of school age children
  2. What are the problems associated with wasting.
  3. What are the problems associated with obesity.
  4. What are the possible solutions to alleviate wasting and obesity among school age children.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Suggestions


In the current study, under-nutrition in the schoolchildren has multiple factors; Low maternal education and household food insecurity status were the independent factors for under-weight. Having large family size, in-adequate carbohydrate intake and household food insecurity status were independent predictors for low BMI for age status. Having Trichuris trichura infection, living in a food insecure household, poor maternal education and children aged 6-10 years were risk factors for stunting. No significant association was found between any of helminthic infections and under-weight or wasting.


Actions to address wasting

The following are suggestion for wasting Preventive interventions:

  1. Access to nutrient rich foods and to health care.
  2. Improved nutrition and health knowledge and practices.
  3. Promotion of exclusive breastfeeding and improved complementary feeding practices.
  4. Improved water and sanitation systems and hygiene practices to protect against communicable diseases.

Appropriate treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition:

  1. Community screening – early identification
  2. Treatment of infections
  3. Access to therapeutic foods
  4. Inpatient management (medical complications)
  5. Monitoring and follow-up.
  6. Appropriate treatment of children with moderate acute malnutrition:
  7. Optimal use of locally available foods
  8. Where necessary specially formulated foods.

Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. Only in rare cases is being overweight caused by a medical condition such as a hormonal problem. A physical exam and some blood tests can rule out the possibility of a medical condition as the cause for obesity.

Although weight problems run in families, not all children with a family history of obesity will be overweight. Children whose parents or brothers or sisters are overweight may be at an increased risk of becoming overweight themselves, but this can be linked to shared family behaviors such as eating and activity habits.

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