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Eating habits and nutrient intakes of 10-15 year old children in the North West Province
Rossouw, Carina Riëtte
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During adolescence, the nutritional needs are higher than at any other time in the lifecycle. Childhood food practices persist into late adolescence and children's food preferences predict their food consumption patterns. Therefore, it is important to understand what influences their preferences and how they change over time. The main objective of this part of the THUSA BANA study was to investigate the eating habits of children aged 10-15 years in the North West Province (NWP). A cross-sectional design was used to investigate the eating habits of the children. A single, random sample, stratified for gender (male/female) and ethnic group (black, white, coloured, Indian) was drawn from schools (primary/secondary) in the five regions in the NWP. Dietary intake data (24-h recall method) were used to evaluate the adequacy of nutrient intakes, while frequencies and mean quantities of food intakes and an eating habits questionnaire were used to establish patterns of intake to identify dietary practices. Overall the diets of children 10-15 years of age were deficient in various micronutrients. The RD/Al's were not met for vitamin A, C, E, folate, pantothenic acid, biotin, calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper. The intake of fibre was low. Girls skipped breakfast more often than boys and children from informal settlements skipped breakfast more often than children from rural and urban areas. A significantly lower BMI was found for the children having breakfast when observing all the children, but not for different age and gender groups. The reason given most for skipping breakfast was not being hungry in the morning, but food availability which may have also played a role. The skipping of breakfast was associated with a lower diet quality. A low intake of fruit and vegetables and high intake of snacks were apparent. The intake of snacks, such as chips, cheese curls and sweets were reported more frequently than fruit or vegetables. Small milk portions and large portions of cold drink were reported, suggesting that cold drink is replacing milk in the diet. Overweight children consumed smaller portions of milk, though no correlation between calcium intake and BMI was found. Overweight boys consumed more carbonated cold drink and overweight girls consumed more squash, showing cold drink intake may be positively related to overweight. The snacks consumed were not nutrient dense and were consumed very regularly. The high intake of snacks may contribute to the low micronutrient and fibre intake. The importance of fruit, vegetables, and milk, breakfast and high nutrient dense snacks needs to be emphasized with both the children and their parents.
- Health Sciences