Assessment of Nutritional Status, Intelligence Quotient and Academic Performance of Primary School Children in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State
The study assessed the nutritional status, academic performance and intelligent quotient of primary school pupils in the Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State. It further investigated the relationship between nutritional status, intelligent quotient and academic performance of the primary school pupils with a view to determining factors that have implication for improving school performance of primary school pupils. A cross-sectional descriptive design was employed. Study sample consisted of 402 primary school pupils aged between 9 and 15 years and recruited from both private and public primary schools in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State between January and March 2006. One hundred and sixty-nine (42%) pupils were from the private schools, while 233 (58%) were from the public schools. Data were collected with the aid of an interviewer-administered, semi-structured questionnaire and the measurement of anthropometric indices. Academic performance was assessed from the records of the grades of the pupils. Raven Standard Progressive Matrices was used to assess the intelligence quotient (IQ) of the pupils. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed. The result showed that the mean weight, height, intelligent quotient and academic performance of the pupils were 33.30+0.35 kg, 1.42+0.01 m, 34.8+0.56 and 63.5+0.66 % respectively. The nutritional status classification of the pupils showed that 50.4% were adequately nourished, 35.1% mildly stunted, 13.5% moderately stunted and 1.5% severely stunted based on height-for-age an index of past nutritional status. Using weigh-for-height (index of wasting), 49.8% of pupils were adequately nourished, 40% mildly wasted, 9.7% moderately wasted and 0.5% was severely wasted. Assessment of cognitive performance revealed that 5% of the pupils were of superior IQ, 11.2% were above average IQ, 11.4% were average, 8.2% were below average and 64.2% were intellectually deficient. However, the proportion of pupils from private primary schools that had better cognitive performances was significantly higher (x2 =45.45, p<0.05) than public primary school pupils. Assessment of academic performance of the pupils revealed that 60.5% of them were above average, 25.1% were average, 11.4% were below average and 3% were poor. Also, the proportion of pupils from private primary schools that had better academic performances was significantly higher (x2 = 60.58, p<0.05) than public primary school pupils. Based on the height-for-age indices, there was no significant relationship between nutritional status and intelligent quotient of the pupils (x2 = 9.99, p>0.05). Similarly, based on weight-for-height indices, nutritional status did not influence intelligence quotient (x2= 15.52, p>0.05). However, based on height-for-age indices, well nourished pupils had significantly better academic performance compared with the stunted pupils (x2= 40.84, p<0.05). The only demographic variable that was associated with nutritional status and academic performance was age. Pupils aged between 11 and 12 years had significantly higher odds ratios of better academic performance (odd ratio = 6.31, p<0.05) and of not being wasted (odd ratio = 9.73, p<0.05) compared with pupils of other age groups. The study concluded that while indices for the present and past nutritional status of the pupils did not influence their cognitive performance, the index of past nutritional status was a significant predictor of academic performance.