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Nutrient composition and dietary diversity of on-site lunch meals, and anthropometry of beneficiary children in private and public primary schools in Ghana

Faith Agbozo, Prosper Atitto, Albrecht Jahn, Abdulai Abubakari
Nutrition and Health 2018 August 10, : 260106018793048

BACKGROUND: On-site lunch provided through the Ghana School Feeding Programme is expected to be nutritionally adequate thereby contributing to reducing hunger and malnutrition.

AIM: The aim of this study was to assess the dietary diversity and nutrient composition of on-site school lunch and estimate the extent to which it met the Food and Agriculture Organization Reference Nutrient Intakes for children aged 3-12 years.

METHODS: In this cross-sectional food consumption survey, on-site lunch menus were reviewed, dietary diversity assessed and meal preparation/serving observed during a typical school week. Three randomly selected portion sizes were weighed and the average weight (grams) entered into the RIING nutrient software to estimate the nutrient composition. Anthropometry of participants enrolled in seven public ( n = 113) and six private ( n = 216) primary schools in Hohoe municipality, Ghana was analysed using World Health Organization Anthroplus software.

RESULTS: The menu consisted largely of energy-dense staples, some vegetables and fish. Eggs, dairy and fruits were never served. Meals served in the public and private schools were statistically similar. Fat (23.8 vs. 27.7 g), iron (3.0 vs. 2.8 mg), vitamins A (417.3 vs. 280.8 µg retinol equivalent) and C (25.1 vs. 16.5 mg) requirements were fully met. Energy (420.6 vs. 462.2 kcal), protein (6.8 vs. 6.8 g), thiamin (0.18 vs. 0.17 mg) and zinc (1.3 vs. 1.2 mg) were 50-75% met. Calcium (62.6 vs. 61.4 mg), riboflavin (0.09 vs. 0.07 mg) and niacin (1.6 vs. 1.3 mg) were 26-37% met. Concerning nutritional status, prevalence of stunting (8.9% vs. 7.9%), underweight (3.6% vs. 5.7%), thinness (1.8% vs. 3.7%) and overweight/obesity (3.5% vs. 4.2%) were also statistically similar.

CONCLUSION: Enhancing dietary diversity is crucial to achieving nutrient-dense school meals.


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