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Nutritional Contents of Lunch Packs of Primary School Children in Nnewi, Nigeria

Author(s): Ugochukwu EF*, Onubogu CU, Edokwe ES and Okeke KN

Background: Lunch packs play a significant role in the nutritional status and academic performance of school children. Available data show a high prevalence of malnutrition among school‑age children. Aims: The aim of this study is to document the nutritional contents of lunch packs of primary school children in Nnewi, Anambra state, Nigeria. Subjects and Methods: A cross‑sectional study was conducted among 1018 primary 1‑6 pupils selected by stratified systematic random sampling from six primary schools, two each of private, – mission, – and government (public) – owned schools in Nnewi metropolis with the aid of the semi‑structured questionnaire. Lunch packs of the pupils were examined. Results: Majority of the pupils (77.8% [792/1018]) had lunch packs although about half of pupils in public schools had no lunch pack. Only 12.4% (98/792) and 19.2% (152/792) of pupils with lunch packs had balanced meals and fruits/vegetables in their lunch packs, respectively. The odds of not coming to school with packed lunch was about 13 and 12 times higher for mothers with no formal education or only primary education, respectively, compared with those with tertiary education. Type of school had a strong influence on possession and contents of lunch pack (χ2 = 2.88, P < 0.001, phi coefficient = 0.72). Pupils in private (97.5% [198/203]) and mission (94.4% [388/411]) schools were more likely to have a lunch pack compared with public schools (51.0% [206/404]). However, pupils in private schools were most likely to have a balanced meal (32.5% [66/203] vs. 5.8% [24/411] in mission and 2.0% [8/404] in public schools) and fruits/vegetables (48.3% [98/203] vs. 10.2% [42/411] in mission and 3.0% [12/404] in public schools) in their lunch packs. Mothers’ educational status and parents’ occupation were significantly associated with lunch pack contents. Conclusion: Majority of the lunch packs of primary school pupils contain poor quality food especially in public schools. Mother’s educational status and parent’s occupation are important determinants of the nutritional contents of lunch packs.


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