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Food consumption pattern and calcium status of adolescent students age (10-19yrs) in Onuimo Local Government Area




The study exermined “Food consumption pattern and calcium status of adolescent students age (10-19yrs) in Onuimo Local Government Area”. The study has four objectives. A cross-sectional study was used to collect data and assess the food consumption pattern and calcium status of adolescent students (10-19 years) from the seven  Autonomous Community listed above in Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State. A total of 300 adolescence students between the ages of 10-19 years from seven secondary schools formed the population of the study. Out of 19 Autonomous Communities, 7 were selected using simple random sampling. Data was collected using questionnaire, anthropometric measurement (height and weight measurement) and biochemical analysis (serum calcium and heamoglobin). Findings from this study showed that there was high prevalence of low serum calcium level of 42% and low Hb of 37.7% among the students which could be linked to low daily intake of milk, fruit, vegetable, beef and fresh fish, which are rich source of calcium and iron. There was high consumption of soft drinks among the students which could attribute to low calcium because of the likelihood of soda being substituted for milk. The study therefore recommended among others that Nutrition education should be carried out in the study area and anywhere adolescents reside such as in schools to enable them to know the importance of milk, other calcium rich foods and iron rich foods as well as nutritious foods and snacks will help the participants to make informed choices that will improve their calcium and nutritional status, generally. Calcium and iron supplement should be given to this age group due to their pattern of feeding in order to meet the recommended calcium and iron recommendation. They should be counseled on how to make wise and healthy choices when eating at homes or outside the school premises.




Adolescents are a nutritionally vulnerable age group because of their increased nutritional needs eating patterns, life styles and susceptibility to environmental influences. Therefore, healthy eating habits play a fundamental role in growth and development during adolescent. A healthy diet based on the nutritional pyramid is not the consumption pattern in the adolescents surveyed. (Palerizuela et al., 2014). There is a low consumption of dairy products, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

However, poor eating habits are often observed in adolescent whose diets, are characterized by a low intake of diary products, fruits, vitamin A. Studies from industrialized countries have reported that adolescent have unique dietary patterns that predispose them to Non Communicable Diseases in adults life. (WHO, 2005). Certain micro nutrients, like zinc, calcium, iron and vitamin A, are frequently observed in adolescents in developed and developing countries including Nigeria (Sight and Life, 2009 and Thracher et al; 2006).

Besides, healthy living adolescents who skip breakfast are more likely to have difficulty concentrating by mid-morning and to experience a decrease in intellectual performance. (Keski-Rahkonen et al., 2003). And they are likely to consume snacks that are high in fat, salt and sugar at other times of the day to increase their total daily energy intake. This can predispose them to obesity. By contrast, it has been observed that individuals who develop healthy eating habits early on in life are more like to maintain them into adulthood and to have a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases (WHO, 2003). Thus, it is necessary to promote and encourage a healthy eating pattern in adolescents.

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WHO defines adolescents as those people between 10 and 19 years of age. The great majority of adolescents are therefore, included in the age – based definition of child” adopted by the convention on the right of the child, (United Nations, 1989). As a person under the age of 18 years, adolescent is often divided into Early (10 – 13 years), Middle (14-16 years) and Late (17-19 years) adolescence. (Sawyer, 2012).

Adolescence (from Latin adolescere, meaning, “to grow up”) is a translational period of physical and psychological human development between childhood and adulthood. Whose cultural purpose is the preparation of children for adult roles (Lasson, 2004). Adolescence is usually accompanied by an increased independence allowed by the parents or legal guardians including les supervision as compared to preadolescence, major pubertal and biological changes to the sex, organs, height, weight and muscles mass, as well as major changes in brain, structure and organization.

Adolescence is an important period during which major biological, social, physiological and cognitive changes take place (Bowman and Russel, 2001). They have special nutritional needs due to rapid growth (lean body mass, fat mass, bone mineralization) and nutritional changes associated with onset of puberty.  Nutritional survey shows that many adolescent do not meet dietary recommendation for their age group and have adequate dietary intake of calcium, iron, Thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin A and C. (Skiba and Longmani, 1997).

Adolescent is a crucial life stage characterized by dramatic modification in lifestyle patterns. These modifications include more unhealthy food choices eating outside the home (mainly fast food restaurants), physical inactivity especially among girls of which put adolescents at nutritional risk (Story et al., 2002). Study reported that adolescent’s girls associated consumption of fast food with pleasure friends and independence while they associated consumption of healthy food with parent and being at home (Chapman, 1993).


The high consumption of soft drinks by adolescent attributes to low calcium because of the likelihood of soda been substitute for milk. (Bonnie, 2004). They should be strongly discouraged from using soft drinks in place of milk. These diet fads may reflect an expression of independence, a busy life style, problem with body image or a search for self-identity or they may be secondary to poor and social pre-sources (Bowman and Russel, 2001). Any restriction of bone mass during adolescence might increase the risk of Osteoporosis later in life. Girls especially those who are athletes. They should be encouraged to maintain an adequate intake of dairy products to provide their calcium needs.

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During puberty, bones become harder and more brittle. At the conclusion of puberty, the ends of the long bones close during the process called Epiphysis. There can be ethnic differences in these skeletal changes for example, in the United States of America, bone density increases significantly more among black than white adolescents, which might account for decreased likelihood of black women developing Osteoporosis and having fewer bone fractures there. (Gilsanz et al., 1991). These changes during puberty affect the incidence and clinical manifestations of a number of diseases. These include Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, eating disorders and depression. (Pattonet al., 2007). At the same, while the changes during puberty may have an impact on chronic illness, chronic conditions in turn influence adolescent development.


Adolescence is one of the most rapid phases of human development (Christie, 2005). Although the order of many of the changes vary among and even within individuals. Many biological changes take place during the adolescents years, such as physical, psychological, Neurodevelopment, social and hormonal changes etc. most obvious are the physical changes for example, increase in height, acquisition of muscle mass, the distribution of body fat and development of secondary sexual characteristics. On average males grow 20cm taller and females 15cm taller. Males gain approximately 20kg and females about 16kg (Onimawo, 2001)  Underlying these physical changes in a wide spectrum of endocrine changes (Gonadarche and andrenache) including hormones that affect gonadal maturation and production of gonadal sex steroids.

The growth sprut during early and middle adolescence is a rapid increase in the physical body during puberty resulting from the simultaneous release of growth hormones, tyroid hormones and androgen (Stein Berg, 2008).

All of these biological changes can be affected by factors internal to the adolescent, such as chronic illness and under-nutrition and by external factors such as stress within the family (Eccles et al., 1993). Similar factors may affect girls and boys differently for example, high body mass index (BMI) may be associated with earlier puberty in girls but delay puberty in boys (Kaplowtz, 2008 and Leej et al., 2010).


            A particular problem with Adolescent is that they replace milk with soft drinks, so they may not consume enough calcium to allow for maximum mineralization of bones which increases their risk of osteoporosis later on. The diets of adolescents are less than optimal because then frequently eat out, skip meals, and snack away from home (example, Pop-corn, potato chips, cookies, cake, candy). Many of these meals and snacks are purchased from vending machines, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants. Most of these foods are higher in calories, fat, sugar, sodium and lower in fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron and zinc than food served at home.

Diseases occurring from low calcium intake are gaining the attention of public health professionals and individual clinicians worldwide..Low calcium intake as diseases remained an endemic problem in many developing countries and have re-emerged in a number of developed countries, where they was thought that they had been almost eradicated (Thacter et al., 2006). Adolescents have special nutrient needs for growth and have been shown not to meet the recommendation for their age (Skiba and Longmani, 1997). It has been revealed that nutritional Rickets remain an endemic problem in many developing countries (Thacher et al., 2006) where it was taught to have almost been eradicated. (Sight and life,2009) have identified Nigeria among countries with severe micro nutrient malnutrition.

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In Nigeria low dietary calcium intake has been proposed as being the primary cause of the biochemical and radiological abnormalities.Nutritional rickets occur commonly and is seen in 2-15% of children in some parts of Nigeria.

For a child the challenges of rickets is that it causes deformities that limit the ability to walk and make it difficult to participate in school and work activities. It is associated with discomfort and painful fractures. And for a family of a child suffering from rickets they face the cost of medical care for that child also family face the future with concern about the ability of the child to grow to become a contributor to family and societal needs.

It has also been reported that a persistently higher calcium intake in childhood and adolescence may help to promote higher bone mass in adulthood and protects against development of Osteoporosis in later life.

This therefore, create the need to identify the food consumption pattern and serum calcium concentration of secondary school children adolescent in Onuimo Local Government Area to ascertain the prevalence of low serum calcium and influence of their food consumption pattern on their serum calcium.


1.6.1    Main Objectives

The broad objective of this study is to assess the food consumption pattern in relation to calcium status of Adolescence students in Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State.

1.6.2    Specific Objectives of The Study Includes to:

  1. Assess the food consumption pattern of the adolescents in the study area using 24 hours dietary recall, food preferences and food frequency questionnaire.
  2. Determine the calcium status of the study population using biochemical indices (serum calcium) by sex.
  3. Determine the body mass index of the adolescence students.
  4. Determine the relationship between food consumption pattern and the BMI, as well as calcium status.


This work will give knowledge of the nutritional status of the adolescents in the study area which will form base data or information for nutritionists, public health workers, policy makers and advocacies of food nutrition and health. It will help stakeholders in nutrition to draw up appropriate intervention programmes for the adolescents.

Pages:  99

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF         

Chapters: 1-5                                 

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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