Food is any substance consumed to provide nutrition support for the body. It is usually of plant and animal origin and contains essential nutrients such as vitamin, mineral, carbohydrates, protein, lipids and water (Houghton, 2013). Food are substance consisting of nourishing and nutritive components such as lipids, protein, carbohydrates, vitamin, minerals and water which sustain life, generates energy, provides growth, maintain and promote health (Collins, 2003). It is any nourishing substance eaten, drunk or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provides energy, promote growth (Thesaurus, 2010).
Food intake is one of the requirements of any living organism to grow and sustain life. But the quality and quantity of nutrient necessary for normal growth and to keep an organism in good health during it’s life span vary with the age of the organism, sex, height, weight, degree of activity and rate of growth (National public health partnership, 2005).
Poor food refers to poor nutrition. It is food that fails to provide the body with correct amounts and types of nutrients for maximum health (Marcy, 2011). Karratti (2011) described Poor food as those foods which are considered to be of poor nutritive quality such as junk food, high fatty and sugary food, food with little or no vitamin such as sweet food, cake, Cookies, Soda. Poor food is also known as unhealthy diet which means the diet that contains too much saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium added sugar and processed ingredient or little nutrient (Janet, 2010). Poor foods are high in calories but low in nutritional content (Merriam, 2014).
Poor nutrition negatively impacts a child’s ability to develop properly and adopt normally to certain situations. Poor food intake is concerns with both under nutrition and over nutrition. Under nutrition involves inadequate levels of energy and nutrients in the diet. Undernutrition in children causes direct structural damage to the brain and impairs infant motor development and exploratory behaviour (Kvamme, January, Olsen, Florholmen, Jon, Jacosen, Bjarne 2011). Children who are undernourished are more likely to be stunted in adulthood, have lower education achievement and economic status and gives birth to smaller infant. Undernutrition is mainly a consequence of inadequate diet and frequent infection, leading to deficiencies in calories protein, vitamin and minerals (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2000). This can led to under weight. Underweight children are at increased risk of mortality from infectious illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
Poor food intake not only involve undernutrition, but also involves overnutrition, where energy intake from diet exceeds energy expenditure which can led to overweight or obesity. This imbalance has been linked to lifestyle factors, such as increased consumption of foods with high level of sugar and saturated fats, as well as a reduction in physical activity (World health organization, 2002). Poor food intake may have an injurious impact on health causing deficiency diseases such as scurvy, kwashiorkor, health threatening conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome and common chronic systemic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis in later stage (Dietary supplement fact sheet, 2011).Poor food intake result from poverty and a lack of education regarding healthy eating (Eliza, 2015).
Poor food intake entails eating inadequate diet. It has to do with high intake of high energy dense foods; which is highly processed and poor micro nutrient quality further diminishing their nutritional value. Energy dense foods tend to be high in fat (e.g. butter, burger, oil, fried foods, sugar and starch) (World Health Organization, 2002).
Poor nutrition can led to a health problem known as malnutrition. Malnutrition also entails a condition where diet does not contain the right balance of nutrient (Ananya, 2012). Malnutrition is a nutrient deficiency state of protein, energy or micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). It is the largest single contributor to disease in the largest world (National institute of clinical excellence, 2006). Malnutrition is a deficiency disease caused by poor food intake. It occurs when the body does not get enough nutrients, it results from inadequate or unbalanced diet, problem with digestion and absorption and certain medical condition (Klein, 2011).
Pre-school children are children between the age of 2-5 years. This stage can also be called early childhood. The brain at this stage develop faster than any other part of the body, at this stage the brain of a child of 5 years has attained 90 percent of its adults weight (Turner, 2004). Preschool children need proper nutritional attention because they are very active. At this stage children nutritional status is been affected (Davidson, 2006). According to children’s Defense fund (2008). children who do not have access to proper nutrition are much more likely to suffer from psychological disorders such as anxiety or learning disabilities. These children are also significantly more likely to require mental health counseling. The nutrition a child receives early in life has lasting impact on his development (Dokata, 2013). Poor food intake, especially for a prolonged period makes us more prone to illness and injury, illness and injury can lead to a reduced appetite through a wide variety of mechanism (Stratton 2007). The nutrition a child received during the first few years of life can affect her health for years to come. Poor nutrition in the first few years is irreversible (Pitcher, Henderson and Robindon,2006).
Most children in Afikpo North suffer from malnutrition because of poor food intake. Most preschoolers in Afikpo consumes much junk food and little vegetable and this practice had caused many adverse health effect in the children body. This prompted the researcher to investigate on this study, the health implication of poor food intake on preschool children in Afikpo North Local Government.
Malnutrition has become an epidemics that eat up the flesh of the population of the people of Afikpo North. This is as a result of poor food intake. Malnutrition which is one of the health problem in Afikpo North local government area is leading cause of child mortality and morbidity. This has led so many Afikpo children to their early grave.
Malnutrition is the main cause of overweight and underweight which is the main cause of some health diseases such as osteoporosis, brain misfunction, Anemia, beri beri, pellagra, teeth decay, psychological crippling, low academic performance etc. Most parents in Afikpo North give their children much processed food instead of natural foods and fruit and this practice has affected many preschoolers health in Afikpo North. Malnutrition exists in some forms in almost every country, affecting many thousands of children. Very poor diets, when combined with poor health and frequent infection affect the body’s ability to digest and absorb enough nutrients to meet up with nutritional needs. This can led to serious physical and psychological problems such as poor intellectual ability, obesity, stunted growth etc. This serious physical and psychological problems unfortunately are associated with preschool children among Afikpo children. As a result, many perform poorly in class and grow stunted. Most of the parents are illiterate and ignorant of the implication of poor nutrition on the health of their children.
The main purpose of the research work is the health implication of poor food intake on preschool children in Afikpo North Local Government. Specifically, the study sought
- To determine the child’s food intake in Afikpo North Local Government Area.
- To determine the influence of poor nutrition on the childrens’s health in Afikpo North Local Government Area.
- To access the influence of poor nutrition on the children’s intellectual performance in Afikpo North Local Government Area.
- To determine the influence of junk food on the children’s health in Afikpo North Local Government Area.
This study will be of great benefit to parents because it will enlighten them on the implication of poor feeding practice on the health of their children. They will desist from the habit of giving their children much processed food and drinks, so as to improve their nutritional intake which inturn improves their nutritional status in order to avoid diseases. The society will equally benefit because it will create awareness on the dangers of poor nutrition and this will educate them on the importance of healthy food intake.
The young researchers will benefit because this study will serve as a guide for them when writing a project, they will equally make references to this study when need be.
The school authorities will benefit because it will enable them to know the nutritional implication of some food and make right choices of food for students in order to spend less money on health care. The government will equally benefit because they can innate their policy from the study.
- What are the child’s food intakes in Afikpo North Local Government Area?
- What are the influences of poor nutrition on the child’s health in Afikpo North Local Government Area?
- How does poor nutrition influence the child’s intellectual development in Afikpo North Local Government Area?
- How does junk food influence the health of preschool children in Afikpo North Local Government Area?
The study was restricted to the health implication of poor food intake on preschool children in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The study specifically looked into the child’s food intake, the influence of poor nutrition on the child’s health, the influence of poor nutrition on the child’s intellectual performance and the impact of junk food on the child health. The study is delimited to preschool children in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.