Health SA Gesondheid (Online)
On-line version ISSN 1025-9848
NAPIER, Carin; OLDEWAGE-THERON, Wilna and KEARNEY, Jeanette. Comparison of three school feeding strategies for primary school chidren in an informal settlement in Gauteng, South Africa. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2009, vol.14, n.1, pp. 96-103. ISSN 1025-9848.
The aim of this study was to compare the impact of three school feeding strategies on the nutritional status of primary school children aged six to 13 in an informal settlement in Gauteng. The methods included dietary surveys and anthropometric and biochemical measurements of a sample of 160 primary school children allocated to three different school feeding intervention groups. One group (n=60) received a whole wheat pilchard and spinach vetkoek , a second received food according to the Government Primary School Nutrition Programme (PSNP) (n=60), and a third (n=40) received fruit. The children were given these items every day for seven months, except during school holidays and weekends. The baseline anthropometric measurements indicated that 13.6%, 20.9% and 10.8% of the children in the vetkoek, PSNP and fruit groups respectively were underweight (<5th percentile for weight-for-age) and 17.3%, 23.6% and 5.2% were stunted (<5th percentile for height-for-age). The post-intervention results indicated that the children in all three groups had improved significantly in weight and height, and in dietary intakes of zinc and iron. The results of this study indicated that all three feeding strategies contributed to an improved nutritional status. Providing fruit as a school feeding strategy may be the most affordable and easy to implement. More research is recommended to measure the impact of these strategies on a longterm basis.
Keywords : primary school children; South Africa; school feeding; nutritional status; malnutrition.