Nutrient analysis of school lunches and anthropometric measures in a private and public school in Chennai, India

Health Inf Sci Syst. 2020 Feb 27;8(1):11. doi: 10.1007/s13755-020-0101-5. eCollection 2020 Dec.


School lunch programs have been implemented as a method to facilitate better learning environments for children. These programs bring together the importance of adequate nutrition for academic performance, growth and development. This study served to assess the impact of the School Lunch Program in India and observe measures related to nutrition adequacy and stunting in school aged children in Chennai, India. Dietary and anthropometric data were collected among students of ages 7 to 10 in a privately funded (n = 64) and a publicly funded school (n = 28). Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis was assessed for private school students. BMI for Age Z-scores for the private school (0.05 ± 1.36) (mean ± standard deviation) and public school (- 0.91 ± 2.01) were significantly different (p = 0.008). Additionally, 32% of public school students exhibited mild stunting, classified as Z-scores less than - 1. Total calories consumed during the private school lunch was 269 ± 112 and 463 ± 234 for the publically funded school. Analysis of nutritional parameters of meals suggest that adequacy was otherwise fair during this singular analysis but does not provide evidence to correlate body composition and long term implications of malnutrition with this study population. Additional longitudinal analysis is required to better assess these implications.

Keywords: Child nutrition; Malnutrition; Stunting.