Educating South African Children about Obesity, Undernutrition, and Overweight: Evaluating the Life Orientation CAPS Curriculum

The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and nutritional deficit among students in a Durban Central public school. Methods: The body mass index (BMI) and food intake of ninety Grade 8 students were measured before and after a nutrition education intervention. The 24-hour food recall questionnaire and the Quantified Food Frequency Questionnaire (QFFQ), both devised by the South African Medical Research Council and collated by Steyn & Senekal (1991), were two of the tools used to collect data on food intake over time. The South African Food Data System (SAFOODS) Food Composition Database was used to calculate nutrient consumption [1]. Significant variations in food intake between the first and second set of measures were determined using ANOVA analyses.

The prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity was 23.3 percent, 14.5 percent, and 12.2 percent in session one, respectively, with no significant change in session two. The QFFQ’s daily calorie consumption decreased from 17209.24 kJ in session one to 13455.39 kJ in session two (p = 0.0002). From session one to session two, the total amount of carbs reduced from 517.82 to 405.38 (p = 0.0003). Despite the fact that the intervention significantly lowered the participants’ kilojoule consumption, the kilojoule intake remains higher than the recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of 8665 kJ for the participants’ age group.

Conclusion: The research shows that the school setting is perfect for qualified teachers to deliver unbiased, objective, and relevant information that students can relate to and implement in their daily lives. Despite the obstacles and changes that grade eight students were exposed to in a new setting, the nutrition programme in this study showed to be extraordinarily successful in that a stable balance in the number of obese and overweight learners was maintained in session one and two. The findings of this study are used to make recommendations for updating the national curriculum as it relates to nutrition education at all levels.

Author (s) Details

Thilavathy Naidoo
School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Lokesh Ramnath Maharajh
School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Yusentha Balakrishna
Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa.

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