Key words

Preschool Children, Socio- Demographic data, Nutrient intakes, RDA.

Introduction

Malnutrition means having a body weight that is lower than normal for age, a lower height than normal for age (delayed growth), being dangerously thin or displaying vitamin and/or mineral deficiency – malnutrition as a result of a lack of micro-nutrients, better known as hidden hunger.

Malnutrition, especially among children, is an obstacle that prevents individuals, and even societies from developing their full potential. A 2006 UNICEF report states that each year over 20 million children are born weighing less than 5.5 lbs, which is equivalent to 17% of all births in the developing world, more than double the rate in industrialized countries, where this percentage is 7%.

According to the State of the World’s Children Report for 2007, between the years 1998-2005 some 11% of babies were born with a low birth rate, and between the years 1995-2005 2% suffered from moderate and serious malnutrition and 9% from chronic (age-for-weight), moderate and severe malnutrition.

Under-nutrition, specifically stunting is associated with impaired mental development and poor school performance. This association is not a simple casual one because complex environmental, social and economic factors are responsible. (Beasley et al., 2002) A deficit in weight can be recouped if nutrition and health improve later in childhood. Once malnutrition is treated, adequate growth is an indication of health and recovery. Even after recovering from severe malnutrition, children often remain stunted for the rest of their lives, indicating that a deficit in height (stunting) is difficult to correct (Walker et al., 2008and UNICEF, 2010).

Materials and Methods

The sample of the present study was collected from Chebrolu, (Guntur District), Andhra Pradesh, India. Preschool children aged between 1 to 3 years were taken. Sample size is 37 preschool children and the data were collected from Anganwadi centers. Dietary data and other information’s were collected through House to House survey. Socio- Demographic data for Children. For this purpose Age, Income level, occupation and Gender were considered as general information. This information was collected by parents through interview method.

The average dietary intake of food per item was calculated and was compared with the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) of India using the values as per ‘Nutritive Value of Indian Food’ (Gopalan et al., 2002).

Results and Discussion

Table 1

Socio- Demographic data of Children (N= 37)

S. NO General Information No of Respondents
1 Age 2-3 yrs
2 Income Level
Low-Income 37 (100)
Middle
High
3 Occupation
Daily laborers 23(62.1)
Auto Drivers 14(37.8)
4 Gender
Boys 37(100)
Girls

Table 1 Shows the Socio- Demographic data of Children. For this purpose Age, Income level, occupation and Gender were considered as general information. Most of the respondents belong to low income. Occupations of the parents were daily laborers 62.1 per cent and 37.8 per cent were Auto drivers. Gender, for the present study boys were selected. Economic status influences on their Nutritional status of the children. Nutrient consumption to changes in income (Strauss and Thomas, 1995). However, despite important contributions to poverty reduction strategies that have come from analysis of food consumption patterns – for example, Reutlinger, and Selowsky’s 1976 study of calorie consumption in Malnutrition and Poverty influenced the World Bank’s support of targeted transfer programs in the 1980’s and 1990’s – improvements in Nutritional status are only loosely related to the food consumed at the country or House hold level.

Table 2

Nutrient intakes in Preschool Children

S.no Nutrients Mean values Standards
1 Energy(K.cal) 1145.1 ± 21.6 1300
2 Protein (g) 9.3 ± 7.5 16
3 Calcium (mg) 440.5 ±17.8 500
4 Iron (mg) 8.2 ±5.9 10
5 Vitamin A (mg) 374.1±22.6 400
6 Folic acid (μg) 39.2 ±19.5 50

Table 2 shows the mean nutrient (macro and micro) intake per consumption unit per day among children. The mean calorie consumption among children was (1145.1 ± 21.6 K.cal). The mean protein consumption among children was (9.3 ± 7.5 g). The mean intake of Energy and protein was lower than the standards. There was also a deficiency in calcium, iron, vitamin A and Folic acid among children. The average daily intake of energy, protein, Calcium, iron and folic acid were found to be inadequate as compared to recommended dietary allowances. Malnutrition means more than feeling hungry or not having enough food to eat. Inadequate intake of protein (necessary to keep the body healthy and build muscle), calories (a measure of energy the body needs), iron (for proper blood cell function), and other nutrients make up different types of malnutrition.

Poor nutrition occurs in developing countries, as well as in more prosperous areas of the world. As many as 800 million persons worldwide are affected by malnutrition. The present study results in accordance with the studies.

These values agree with the report of National Micronutrient Survey (NMS, 1993), Inadequate energy intake was seen in this study. This can be because of consumption of bulky food with lowenergy and/or nutrient density. The protein intake of the children was generally low but above 81% of their FAO/WHO/UNU daily requirement. Most of their protein intakes were from plant foods but there are some nutritionally good food combinations they make in the area that can help in improving the quality of their protein intake. For example, plant foods like beans were being prepared with animal foods like crayfish and/or dried fish and/or meat. At times, legumes and cereals were normally mixed together in their meals and this combination gives protein of very high quality. Although the iron intake of the children can be said to be fair, most of their iron were of plant source. The problem with iron from plant source is poor bioavailability, since inorganic iron from plants is not well absorbed in the body unless they are taken with ascorbic acid foods or animal foods.

Conclusion

The present study shows the data on Nutritional status of the preschool Children and their Socio- Demographic data. The study reveals that there were lower consumption in several macro and micro nutrients intake compared to Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of preschool children. Income levels also influences on their Food intakes and nutritional status of the children. Macro and Micronutrient supplementation, food fortification and intervention programmes are to be implemented.