This paper investigates the nutritional status of a randomly selected cohort of school children and the factors affecting it. This random survey was conducted in the state of Selangor, involving 1,405 primary students (aged 9-10 years from 54 national primary schools). Physical examination was carried out on all the students. Information on the students was also obtained from the parents. Blood samples were taken by using the finger pricking technique. Body mass index (BMI) was used as a measure of physical growth. The students were mainly from urban areas (82.9%). The mean age was 9.71 years and a higher proportion was females (51%). Malays constituted 83.6%, Indians 11.6% and Chinese 4.2% of the study population. The mean weight and height were 32.30 kg and 135.18 cm respectively. The mean BMI was 17.42 kg/m2, with 1.2% of the students underweight, 76.3% normal BMI, 16.3% overweight and 6.3% were obese. Nutritional status was significantly related to blood pressure, history of breast feeding, eating fast food, taking canned/bottled drinks, income and educational level of parents. Significant differences in nutritional status between sexes and locations (rural/urban) were also found. The prevalence of overweight and obese children was of concern. There is thus an urgent need for the School Health Program to periodically monitor the school children's eating habits and physical growth. Appropriate counselling on nutritional intake and physical activities should be given not only to schoolchildren but also to their teachers and parents or caregivers.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.