The Impact Of Nutrition Education On The Dietary Habits Of Female Secondary School Students

Project and Seminar Material for Food Science and Technology (FST)

The Impact Of Nutrition Education On The Dietary Habits Of Female Secondary School Students


The objective of this study was to explore the impact of nutrition education on the dietary habits of female secondary school students, sixty adolescent girls in the age group of 12-18 years were selected randomly from two (a private and a public) secondary schools in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Nutrition education improved their mean nutrition knowledge scores significant (p‹0.01) from 11.17=1.42 to 19.16 =1.8 significant increase in average daily intake of all the nutrients was found among all the adolescent subjects.

The average contribution of carbohydrate, protein and fat to total energy also increased after imparting nutrition education. The dietary habits were improved as the practice of meal skipping was found to significantly reduce after imparting nutrition education. Thus, nutrition education is an effective measure to bring about the favourable and significant change in adolescent nutrient intake.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Nutrition education is any combination of educational strategies, accompanied by environmental supports, designed to facilitate voluntary adoption of food choices and other food- and nutrition- related behaviour conducive to health and well-being.

Nutrition education is delivered through multiple venues and involves activities of the individual, community, and policy levels (Jones and Bartletti, 2007).

This definition has been adopted by the society for nutrition education and behaviour and was authored by Dr. Isobel Contento, a leading authority in nutrition education. The work of nutrition educators takes place in colleges, universities and schools, government agencies, cooperative extension, communications and public relations firms, the food industry, voluntary and service organizations and with other reliable places of nutrition and health education information.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) published a position paper regarding the nutritional needs of teenagers. This paper stated that the health of adolescents is dependent on normal dietary intakes and that the provision of foods that contain adequate energy and nutrients was essential for physical, social and cognitive growth and development.

Adequate nutrient intake during adolescence is very important for many reasons. Adolescence is a particularly unique period of life because it is a time of intense physical, psychological and cognitive development.

Adolescence is a transition phase to adulthood. The age of adolescence encapsulates a window of time when bodies are metamorphosing and evolving into that of an adult. It is a time when the adolescent tries to establish his own identify yet desperately seeks to be socially accepted by his peers (Lulinski, 2001). During adolescence hormonal changes accelerate growth in height. Growth is faster than at any other time in the individual’s life except the first year (Brasel, 1982). Increased nutritional needs at this juncture relate to the fact that adolescents gain up to 50% of their adult weight, more than 20% of their adult height and 50% of their adult skeletal mass during this period (Brasel, 1982). The adolescent therefore face series of serious nutritional challenges which would impact on this rapid growth spurt as well as their health as adults. However, the adolescent remain a largely neglected, difficult to-measure, hard-to-reach population. Consequently, the needs, particularly those of adolescent girls are often ignored (Kurz and Johnson-Welch, 1994).

At this developmental stages, protein requirements maximal. Increased physical activity, combined with poor eating habit and other considerations, for example, menstruation, oral contraceptive use and pregnancy contribute to accentuating the potential risk for adolescents of poor nutrition.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Poor nutritional choices and practices have been shown to increase during adolescence; the need for nutrition education becomes clear. It is important that health educators look into nutrition education and its impact on the dietary habits of adolescent females. Several studies have been conducted that show how nutrition education impacts the dietary habits of adolescents.

These studies have reviewed the effect of nutrition education on adolescent athletes and have analyzed how nutrition education impacts snack patterns.

The main nutritional problems affecting adolescent populations in particular include under-nutrition in terms of stunning and wasting. Others are deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron and vitamin a, obesity and other specific nutrient deficiencies (Kurz and Johnson-Welch, 1994).

Adolescents because they are still growing, who enter into marriage with poor nutritional status are likely to give birth to smaller infants than mature women of the same nutritional status (WHO, 1995) because of the competition for nutrients between the growing adolescent and the growing fetus (Scholl et al, 1990) andpoorer placental function (Colson, 1987). Undernourished adolescent girls and women give birth to underweight and often stunned babies. These infants are less able to learn as young children and are more likely themselves to be parents to infants with intrauterine growth.

Retardation and low birth weight. However, they are less able to generate livelihoods and are less equipped to resist chronic diseases in later life. Such lifecycle and intergenerational links demand sustained, long term ameliorative action (ACC/SCN, 2000) which this study aims to provide.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

  1. To assess the impact of nutrition education on the nutritional intake of female secondary school students.
  2. To educate adolescent girls about sources of nutrient and balance diet.
  3. To help improve the eating habits of adolescent girls.
  4. To serve as a guide to nutrition educators and dieticians
  5. To recommend nutrition education as part of the curriculum of secondary school in Nigeria.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The aim of this study is to outline the importance of nutrition education to improving the nutrient intake of adolescent girls.

One particular group of interest is the adolescent female few studies have reviewed the impact of nutrition education on the dietary intakes of the average adolescent female. In the present study, the effect of a term long nutrition education class on the dietary habits of adolescent females in secondary schools in Benin City was examined. This study compared dietary intakes of female students who completed a nutrition education class to female students who did not. The findings in the present study are important in that they help nutrition educators and dietician understands if adolescent female who are provide with a one term time period will develop better eating habits than females who do not receive nutrition education.

1.5 Research Questions

This research questions will be on socio-demographic characteristics of adolescent girls, their dietary habits and nutritional knowledge.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study shall be restricted to secondary school in Egor L.G.A, Edo State of Nigeria only in the realization of similar condition facing female students in other states of Nigeria. The survey shall be on nutrient intake only of adolescent girls.

Nutrition education lectures shall be held for the subjects and pamphlets and handouts shall be used to facilitate the lectures.

1.7 Limitation

The researcher was handicapped by both time and finances. The time was too short for a study of this magnitude. Also the non-availability of finance to enable the researcher move around was another limitation.

1.8 Organization of the Study

The work has been divided into five chapters. Chapter one which is an introductory chapter also considers the methodology of the study, while chapter two reviews related literature. In chapter three, the method of data collection and analysis is discussed. Chapter four which presents and analyses the secondary and primary data also discusses research findings. Chapter five which is a concluding one focuses on the summary of findings, conclusions and recommendations.

1.9 Operational Definitions

Balanced Diet:

Is the food which has mixed food from all groups of food which has all nutrients needed for the body and must be eaten a more than two times per day.


Is a place where people of different ages gain education including elementary schools and Universities.


Is a composition of nutrients in the form that can be eaten and ultimately utilized by the body to provide the consumer with good health status.


Is the state of being free from illness or injury.


In good health, not diseased, Implies full strength and vigour as well as freedom from signs of disease.


Is a state of poor nutritional status, which is the result of inadequate or excess intake of nutrients by the body. Also can be defined as; all forms of poor nutrition, it relate to imbalances in energy and specific macro and micronutrients as well as in dietary patterns.


Is the end results of various process in society which end when food is eaten, followed by subsequent absorption and utilization of food nutrients by the body to provide health.

Nutrition Education:

Is the process by which people gain knowledge, attitude and skills necessary for developing appropriate dietary habit.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The only factors associated with nutrition knowledge were age, with young pupils significantly demonstrating higher levels of knowledge than their older counterparts, another factor was source of information, those received information through their curriculum were knowledgeable than those who did not include nutrition knowledge in their curriculum.

According to the study done by Fahlman et al, 2008), knowledge on nutrition is highly needed for the students, venderors and cooks to make them aware of what they are supposed to provide to their customers in order to maintain their healthy bodies. It is high time now for the Government to use Social Workers at schools and colleges premises as they are responsible for the health of human beings as are counsellors, advocators, teachers, guardians, problems solver, etc.

5.2 Recommendations

In one of the statement FAO (2005) reported that, “The nutrition knowledge acquired throughout school life is a factor of interaction between the school curriculum, school environment, the family and community”. Thus on improving nutrition knowledge it seems that, four areas have to be considered: The Class room, curriculum, school environment the family, and the community. The study also suggested that, the most important professionals who are keen and responsible for individuals, families, and communities are Social Workers who can play a big role on advocating, counselling, teaching, coaching and providing guidance in maintaining healthy communities, raising socio-economies through heath teachings. The researcher provides the following recommendations to improve the situation:

  1. Nutrition education educations commonly known as health interventions should be provided to students because they have significant effect in the development of healthy eating habits. Besides, it can make them understand consequences brought by non-nutritious foods to academic performance. The emphasise at this point is to maintain the level of nutrition knowledge to all school children from Primary school up to University/College levels. Social workers have to play their roles as are doing helping professionals who can intervene with individuals, families, and communities.
  2. Health educators, social workers, nutritionists, administrators, reporters, politicians, etc. should consider using schools or colleges to provide nutrition education for the following reasons:
    • Schools provide safe and low-cost health service interventions
    • Schools reach a high proportion of children and adolescents.
    • Schools provide opportunities to practice healthy eating and food safety.
    • Schools can teach students how to resist unhealthy social pressures since eating is a socially learned habit that is influenced by social pressures.
    • Skilled personnel are available to provide follow-up and guidance  after appropriate training of students, teachers and other staff.
    • Nutrition interventions in schools benefit the entire community.
    • Education and healthy nutrition for girls has a positive impact on family health
  3. Schools and donors should consider establishing school feeding educations. These educations are good because they increase food availability to the youth who needed. Besides, these educations decrease short-term hunger, thus enabling youth to concentrate on their studies,
  4. Health educators, social workers, nutritionists, administrators, reporters, politicians, etc. should ensure that nutrition education in schools always applies the tri-partite curriculum approach (i.e. link nutrition education in the classroom with learning in the school environment, home and community).

The Impact Of Nutrition Education On The Dietary Habits Of Female Secondary School Students

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