Evidence-based strategy for prevention of hidden hunger among adolescents in a suburb of Nigeria
BMC Public Health
Background Hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiencies) among adolescents are linked to impaired physical growth, poor cognitive function, low resistance to infection as well as degenerative and chronic diseases at later age. To prevent these deleterious impacts of hidden hunger, effective intervention strategy that improves nutrition knowledge and promotes healthy food choices among this age-group becomes imperative. The intervention was to evaluate the impact of a 14-page locally developed
... ally developed nutrition education aids on the teenagers' knowledge of the functions, food sources and deficiencies of some micronutrients and their food choices. Methods A one group pre-and post-intervention quasi-experimental study design was conducted with 869 adolescents (13–17 years) selected using multi-stage sampling technique in public secondary schools in a suburb of Nigeria. Using the instructional material development guidelines, the nutrition education aids were developed with nutrition facts, pictures of staple micronutrients-rich foods, and computer graphics. Baseline (pre-intervention) knowledge of nutrition and practice of food choices in relation to micronutrients were determined before exposing the students to the developed nutrition education aids and reassessing (post-intervention) them after 6 months. Data obtained were subjected to paired samples t-test using SPSS version 21. Results The adolescents were mostly females (58.92%) aged 16–17 years (53.62%). There was significantly (p < 0.05) higher mean knowledge scores of general nutrition (65.77 vs. 39.61%) and food sources of nutrients (82.26 vs. 66.87%) at post-intervention compared to pre-intervention. Also, the mean knowledge of functions and deficiencies of vitamin C, folic acid, iron, calcium, and zinc were significantly (p < 0.05) higher at post-intervention than at pre-intervention. The study further revealed percentage increase in the proportion of respondents who consumed meat (27.72%), mango (128.20%), watermelon (152.29%), carrot (336.34%) and leafy vegetables (85.56%) daily after the intervention. In addition, the percentage of students who rarely consumed all the studied micronutrient-rich foods decreased after the intervention. Conclusion The intervention strategy increased the nutrition knowledge and the consumption of some micronutrients-rich food sources among the adolescents. The developed nutrition education aids are recommended for use in the fight to reduce/eradicate hidden hunger among adolescents in Nigeria.