The interrelationships among nutritional status, living environment, and school performance of first through third grade primary school children living in low socioeconomic areas in Khartoum, Sudan
The purpose of this research was to investigate the interrelations among and between indicators of nutritional status, living environment, and school performance of first through third grade primary school children living in low socioeconomic areas in Khartoum, Sudan. Subjects were 198 first through third grade males and females enrolled in six primary schools in three urban, low socioeconomic areas of Khartoum. An interview form was developed to obtain information from the subjects' mothers or female guardians regarding demographic and living environment information, food behavior patterns, and common illnesses of their children. At school, anthropometric characteristics (weight and height) were measured, and school attendance and performance data were obtained;Most subjects came from large families but lived in small homes. Most parents had less than a high school education. The majority of fathers had relatively low-paying jobs and almost all of the mothers did not work outside the home. Most homes had piped water, electricity, television, and radios, but garbage removal services were not available to all the families. The children typically ate three meals and one or more snacks daily and consumed a variety of food items. Most children had had from two to five illnesses during the present school year, and illness was the major cause of absences from school. Anthropometric data indicated poor growth among this group of children. School records showed that a majority had first enrolled in school after age seven, but ranked in the top half of their class academically. Absenteeism averaged 2-4% of the present year's school days. The children of mothers with higher educational achievement tended to perform better in school and to have lower absenteeism rates. Lower absenteeism was also associated with higher weight-for-height percentiles, fewer illnesses, and higher language scores. Girls scored significantly higher in math and language than boys.