The effects of nutrition and health education on the nutritional status of internally displaced schoolchildren in Cameroon: a randomised controlled trial

J Nutr Sci. 2024 Mar 13:13:e15. doi: 10.1017/jns.2024.8. eCollection 2024.

Abstract

Lack of nutrition knowledge and poor dietary practices have profound adverse implications on nutritional status particularly among displaced children. Evidence of the effectiveness of nutrition education interventions in improving the nutritional status of internally displaced schoolchildren in Cameroon is scarce. The study objective was to assess the effects of nutrition education on the nutritional status of internally displaced schoolchildren in the West and Littoral Regions of Cameroon. A pre-test-post-test randomised experimental study design was used with an experimental and control group of 160 children from ten primary schools and their caregivers. Anthropometric, biochemical, and clinical signs of malnutrition, dietary, and health status of the children were evaluated, and the caregiver's nutrition knowledge was assessed in both groups at baseline and end-line with the aid of standard anthropometric and biochemical equipment and recorded in pretested questionnaires. Nutrition education was carried out only with the caregivers of children in the test group. In the test group, significant beneficial outcomes were noticed only for Bitot's spot (p = 0.047), pallor (0.025), frequency of consumption of fruits (p = 0.002) and vegetables (p = 0.036), caregiver's nutrition knowledge (p = 0.000), all health-seeking practices of the children (p < 0.05) except immunisation (p = 0.957). No significant change was seen in any of the parameters studied among the participants in the control group. Nutrition education alone was not effective in improving the nutritional status of the children and should be implemented together with other food-based nutrition interventions to improve the nutritional status of internally displaced schoolchildren in the West and Littoral Regions of Cameroon.

Keywords: Cameroon; Internally Displaced Schoolchildren; Nutrition Education; Nutritional Status; West and Littoral Regions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cameroon
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition*
  • Nutritional Status*