|Malnutrition is affecting millions of children all over the world and the situation is made worse by the coexistence of under and over-nutrition that is on the rise in many developing countries such as Uganda. Many of the studies done concerning malnutrition and its risk factors are based on children less than five years of age, indicating that there is less focus on the nutrition status of school age children 6-14 years of age.
A cross-sectional study was done in day and boarding private primary schools in Central and Nakawa division. The nutrition status of the children was assessed using and anthropometric measurements such as height, weight and mid upper arm circumference measurements. The children’s eating habits and physical activity patterns were assessed using a structured questionnaire.
The prevalence of wasting, overweight and obesity among the children were 4.8%, 5.7% and 2.9% respectively. The day scholars were more overweight and obese (8.9% and 3.6% respectively) compared to the boarding pupils (2.0% overweight and 2.0% obese). The prevalence of wasting was more observed among the boarding pupils (6.1%) compared to the day scholars (3.6%). The risk factors to overweight and obesity included consumption of processed foods (p=0.01), consumption of meats (p=0.004), level of physical activity (p=0.009) and watching television (p = 0.007).
These results indicated that malnutrition exists among school children aged 6-14 years enrolled both in day and boarding sections of private primary schools. Nutrition status is also seen to transition from under-nutrition in the younger years into over-nutrition in the older ages. Therefore interventions such as provision of balanced diets, selling a variety of unprocessed foods in the school canteens and ensuring a hygienic environment for the pupils should be put in place to tackle some of the risk factors that are associated with malnutrition among the primary school children.