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Nutrition and Health Status of Adolescents in a Private Secondary School in Port Harcourt

Esimai Olapeju

Background: Adolescents health status is a cumulative effect of the health and nutritional problems occurring during early childhood as well those originating in period of adolescence.

Objectives: To determine nutrition and health status of adolescents using body mass index, dental caries and visual acuity and the relationship between BMI, gender, age and period of adolescence.

Methods: In 2009, 182 adolescents aged 10-16 years in armed force secondary school in Port Harcourt were selected in the junior secondary schools. Weight, height were measured, BMI estimated, their visual acuity and dental status were also assessed.

Results: The prevalence of underweight, overweight and stunting were 46.2%, 6.6% and 36.3% respectively. Twenty three percent had refractive error and prevalence of dental caries was 24.2%. There was a significant difference in the mean BMI by gender and period of adolescence. The prevalence of underweight was higher in early adolescence and male gender while the prevalence of stunting was higher in the early adolescence.(x2= 5.32, p=0.02) There was a significant association between low BMI and gender ((x 2 = 14.3, p=0.0001); low BMI and period of adolescence (x2 = 13.1, p=0.014). Gender and period of adolescence is a contributory factor in BMI of the adolescents. Periodic assessment of adolescents in schools and communities is essential in order to design a life course approach preventive efforts to address their health and nutritional problems.