TitleNutritional Status of Primary Schoolchildren in Garhwali Himalayan Villages of India
AuthorsOsei A., Houser R., Bulusu S., Joshi T., Hamer D.
PublicationFood Nutr Bull. 2010 Aug; 31(2):221-33.
AbstractBACKGROUND: Anemia and micronutrient deficiencies are common among Indian schoolchildren. However, past studies have narrowly focused on only a few micronutrients and have not carefully evaluated the association between sociodemographic factors and nutritional status of schoolchildren. OBJECTIVE: To assess the nutritional status of schoolchildren in Himalayan villages of India and to determine the relationships between their nutritional status, intestinal helminth infection, and sociodemographic characteristics. METHODS: A random sample of 499 children 6 to 10 years of age from 20 public primary schools was selected. Household sociodemographic data and morbidity data on children were collected through interviews with their caretakers. Height and weight were measured, and venous blood was drawn for assessment of hemoglobin, serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, retinol, zinc, folic acid, vitamin B12, and C-reactive protein. Stool samples were analyzed for parasitic infections. Results. Underweight, stunting, and wasting were present in 60.9%, 56.1%, and 12.2% of schoolchildren, respectively. Anemia, iron-deficiency anemia, and low serum concentrations of ferritin, zinc, retinol, folate, and vitamin B12 were found in 36.7%, 10.2%, 24.1%, 57.1%, 56.1%, 67.9%, and 17.4% of the children, respectively. One-fifth of the children had intestinal parasites. Being underweight was associated with lower household wealth (p < .05). Helminth infection was associated with stunting, anemia, and low serum retinol (p < .05). Living at higher altitude was associated with low serum levels of ferritin, retinol, and vitamin B12. There were no associations between any sociodemographic variables and serum zinc orfolate. CONCLUSIONS: Growth impairment and micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent among schoolchildren in Himalayan villages of India.