Total nutrient needs of adolescents are higher than any other time in the Lifecycle making susceptible to malnutrition. Any nutritional deficiency experienced during this critical period of life can have long lasting effect on the future health of the individual and also her offspring. Hence this study was to assess nutritional status and predictors of malnutrition among adolescent school girls, in south west Ethiopia. A cross sectional study was conducted using a multistage sampling technique and eight hundred and twenty school going adolescent girls were selected from southwest zones of Ethiopia, Southern Nation Nationality People Region (SNNPR). Twelve schools were randomly selected and allocation of study participant was made proportional to number of student in the classes. The selected subjects were classified into three groups based on the grades such as primary (grades 5 and 6), junior (grades 7 and 8) and high school (grades 9 and 10) according to educational system of Ethiopia. Using sampling frame schools roster, girls between the age of 10 and 19 were selected. Interviewer administered pre-tested structured questionnaire was used to collect the data. An UNICEF Seca Electronic weight Scale and portable plastic height measuring instrument was used for obtaining anthropometric data immediately after face-to-face interview. The data were analyzed using SPSS version 20. An anthropometric measure was converted to the indices of nutritional status, Z-scores of height for age and BMI for age using WHO AnthroPlus version 1.0.3 software. All statistical significances were declared at p-value less than 0.05. The mean (±SD) of height-for-age z scores (HAZ) and body mass index for age z-score (BAZ) of the participants were -0.62 (±0.88), and -0.41(±0.99) respectively. Residence, regularity of breakfast, no episode of illness in the preceding one month to interview, fuels used for cooking in the household, hand-washing habit after toilet use, time spent on sedentary activities, consumption of sweet food items, consumption of cereal, mothers’ occupation were significant predictors (p<0.05). From the study it was obvious that over nutrition and obesity is not the major problem of female adolescent student .It is therefore relevant to focus on enhancement of the eating practices of adolescents. Strengthened Health education focusing on regular consumption of breakfast, washing hand after toilet use and preparing separate kitchen for cooking should be there. Though sweet foods and drinks consumption may be discouraged; in this community it is necessary to maintain healthy eating practices to achieve desired nutritional status of the adolescents by increasing their sweet food consumption.
Key words: School going adolescent girls, nutritional status.
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