Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Anthropometrically determined nutritional status of urban primary schoolchildren in Makurdi, Nigeria

Daniel T Goon12*, Abel L Toriola1, Brandon S Shaw1, Lateef O Amusa2, Makama A Monyeki3, Oluwadare Akinyemi4 and Olubola A Alabi5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Sport, Rehabilitation and Dental Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa

2 Centre for Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Science, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa

3 School of Biokinetics and Sport Science, North-West University, Potchestroom, South Africa

4 Department of Statistics, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa

5 Department of Food Science and Technology, The Polytechnic, Saki Campus, Saki, Oyo, Nigeria

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:769  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-769

Published: 6 October 2011



No information exists on the nutritional status of primary school children residing in Makurdi, Nigeria. It is envisaged that the data could serve as baseline data for future studies, as well as inform public health policy. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of malnutrition among urban school children in Makurdi, Nigeria.


Height and weight of 2015 (979 boys and 1036 girls), aged 9-12 years, attending public primary school in Makurdi were measured and the body mass index (BMI) calculated. Anthropometric indices of weight-for-age (WA) and height-for-age (HA) were used to estimate the children's nutritional status. The BMI thinness classification was also calculated.


Underweight (WAZ < -2) and stunting (HAZ < -2) occurred in 43.4% and 52.7%, respectively. WAZ and HAZ mean scores of the children were -0.91(SD = 0.43) and -0.83 (SD = 0.54), respectively. Boys were more underweight (48.8%) than girls (38.5%), and the difference was statistically significant (p = 0.024; p < 0.05). Conversely, girls tend to be more stunted (56.8%) compared to boys (48.4%) (p = 0.004; p < 0.05). Normal WAZ and HAZ occurred in 54.6% and 44.2% of the children, respectively. Using the 2007 World Health Organisation BMI thinness classification, majority of the children exhibited Grade 1 thinness (77.3%), which was predominant at all ages (9-12 years) in both boys and girls. Gender wise, 79.8% boys and 75.0% girls fall within the Grade I thinness category. Based on the WHO classification, severe malnutrition occurred in 31.3% of the children.


There is severe malnutrition among the school children living in Makurdi. Most of the children are underweight, stunted and thinned. As such, providing community education on environmental sanitation and personal hygienic practices, proper child rearing, breast-feeding and weaning practices would possibly reverse the trends.