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Title: Orphanage Children in Ghana: Are Their Dietary Needs Met?

Study Location: Ghana

Type of Paper: Original Article, Descriptive Research

Purpose: To determine the nutritional status, food consumption and dietary intake of children living at an orphanage in Tamale, Ghana.

Measures: Demographics, Quantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire (QFFQ), weight, height, weight-for-age, height-for-age, weight-for-height

Participants: Forty children living at Tamale orphanage, including 22 boys and 18 girls between 2 and 18 years old; and 23 orphanage workers, including 15 administrative staff and 8 caregivers.

Methods: Questionnaires were piloted among volunteers prior to the beginning of the study. Trained fieldworkers then administered the questionnaires and conducted anthropometric measurements on-site. Demographic, food frequency and anthropometric data were then aggregated and analyzed by the primary investigator.

Results: Seventy percent of the children in the study were adolescents. No children in the sample suffered from chronic disease or any known allergy or food intolerance. Eighty-five percent of children had normal weight-for-age, 10% were underweight, and 5% were above average. Seventy-seven percent of children had normal height-for-age, 10% were stunted and 5% were above average height. Eighty-percent of children had normal weight-for-height, 15% were wasted and 5% were overweight. Analysis of dietary intake showed that mean levels of energy (kilocalorie) intake were below the recommended daily allowance. However, protein intake was higher than the recommended daily allowance. Despite sufficient protein intake, fat and carbohydrate intake was low for all age groups. Mean intakes of calcium, magnesium, zinc, ascorbic acid, vitamin D and vitamin E were also below the recommended daily allowance. By age group, intake for children 1-3 years was deficient for all nutrients except protein and magnesium; intake for children 7-10 years was deficient in all nutrients except protein; intake for children 11-14 years was deficient in all nutrients except protein, iron and magnesium; and intake for children 15-18 years was deficient in all nutrients except protein and zinc. Most commonly consumed food items (by weight in descending order) were coffee, tea, maize meal, brown bread, rice, rice porridge, white sugar, squash and custard. Interviews revealed caregivers lacked understanding of nutrition and food preparation and handling skills.

Conclusions and Implications: Large gaps exist in the knowledge of nutritional status and daily dietary requirements of the orphanage children. Children living in this orphanage have low intake of macro- and micronutrients, contributing to underweight, stunted and wasted children. Contributing factors to the insufficient diets include poor menu planning, poor food procurement procedures, lack of caregiver training, and lack of knowledge of nutritional requirements

Limitations: Language gaps existed between field workers and caregivers. English, the second language for all, was the common language used. Study reflects the status of only one orphanage in Ghana.

Citation/Reference: Sadik, A. Orphanage Children in Ghana: Are Their Dietary Needs Met? Pakistan Journal of Nutrition. 2010; 9(9): 844-852. http://www.pjbs.org/pjnonline/fin1776.pdf

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