Faculty of Public Health - Andalas University - OCS, 13th IEA SEA Meeting and ICPH - SDev

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Are Our Rural Adolescents Eating Healthy? – A Cross Sectional Study in a Rural Area of Coimbatore.
Subhashini Ganesan, Thomas V Chacko, Muhhamad GM

Last modified: 2018-08-20



Adolescence is the transition stage between childhood and adulthood of a person and it is broadly considered as the ages 10 to 19. This period is an important stage in everybody’s life as it prepares a child for its adulthood life and time of almost constant changes of body, mind and social relationships. During this period, when independence is established, dietary and activity pattern may be adopted that are followed for many years. The changes in eating pattern contribute to the changes in normal health and hence this study aims to assess the BMI and eating habits of adolescents.

Materials and methods

13 schools in Madukarai block in rural Coimbatore were selected and anthropometric assessment was done on 1425 adolescents who belong to 10 – 19 years. Anthropometry measurements like height and weight were measured and the nutritional status was assessed based on WHO recommended BMI for age chart. The nutritional intake was assessed using a self developed questionnaire based on Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and NIN (National Institute of Nutrition), scoring of the same was done.



Out of the 1425 adolescents 753 (52.8%) were boys 672 (47.2) were girls. Overall 68.8% of the adolescents had normal BMI, 23.2% were thin and 8% were overweight and obese. Mean BMI of boys were 16.95 ± 6.66 and girls were 18.05 ± 6.89 and the difference was found to be statistically significant (p< 0.01). The mean nutritional score was found to be statistically significant between the thin and normal and between thin and overweight BMI groups (p< 0.001). Habit of consuming fruits and milk was very poor among the adolescents and none of them had the habit of taking green leafy vegetables daily. Significant association was found between eating habits and the BMI of adolescents (p< 0.001).



Study shows that overweight/obese was more among girls and underweight was more among boys and that eating habits correlate to their nutritional status; hence strategies have to be developed to promote healthy eating. Since milk, fruits and green leafy vegetables consumptions is very poor among all adolescents there are prone for micro nutrients deficiency even though the BMI is normal, so measures have to be taken to avoid such deficiencies.