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1.1 Background to the Study

Childhood is the period of life characterised by the fastest growth and development after infancy, compared with later life stages, and the dietary habits developed at this stage affect the child’s wellbeing, health and overall quality of life. Therefore, children should be enabled to make conscious and healthy dietary decisions so that they can live healthy lives with a greater than average life expectancy.

Many educators are concerned about healthy child behavior (Kollataj, Sygit and Sygit (2011). Research has shown that a healthy lifestyle consisting of adequate eating habits promotes child health, and should thus be monitored to ensure appropriate development both physically and psychologically (Scaglioni, De Cosmi and Ciappolino, 2018).

Although adequate eating habits are a vital aspect of a healthy lifestyle, studies have shown that many children have irregular eating habits, which may result in susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, diet-related early mortality, and economic consequences such as high medical costs, low productivity due to disability, and low output in later life (Sirirassamee and Hunchangsith, 2016).

Research by Fryar et al (2021) found that 17% of British children aged 2–15 years are obese and 14% of children are overweight. The same study also found that, in the USA, 17% of the population aged 2–19 years is obese, while 16% of the population within the same age range is overweight. These findings are credited to poor dietary habits and food choices arising from a lack of nutritional knowledge.

Good nutrition in childhood is essential to help children learn how to manage their food choices and calorific intake effectively. Intake of adequate nutrition makes people healthier and thus makes the community more productive and establishes better opportunities to ward off cycles of hunger and poverty (Bender and Cunningham, 2021).

The current situation of obesity followed by increasing rates of several conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension means there is an urgent need to raise childhood awareness of what is meant by good nutrition and healthy food choices. This requires the implementation of nutrition education to improve sustainability and the adoption of nutritional science in daily life, through frequent interventions based on contemporary findings (Swindle, Curran and Johnson, 2019).


In the past two decades, there has been a profound global attention on the nutrition of everyone in the world. The nations of the world, through the United Nations (UN) have made concerted efforts to achieve healthy nutrition for everyone including children, via a variety of interventions, strategies, plans, frameworks and goals. The second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) was organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World

Health Organization (WHO) in 2014 to address major nutrition challenges in the world among others (FAO/WHO, 2015). The comprehensive implementation plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (2012 – 2025) was launched to reduce childhood wasting, overweight and stunted growth in children (WHO, 2014).

Furthermore, the UN decade of Action on Nutrition (2016 – 2025) was declared as a commitment by the United Nations Member States to undertake 10 years of sustained and coherent implementation of policies, programmes and increased investments to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, everywhere, leaving no one behind (UN, 2016). This was aimed at accelerating the implementation of ICN2, achieve Global Nutrition and diet-related NCD targets by 2025 and realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The second goal of the laudable SDGs, zero hunger, implies reduction of malnutrition (UN, 2015). The nexus between nutrition, health and education is glaring in the SDGs (2015 – 2030), the Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescent’s Health (2016 – 2030) and the emerging FAO – School Food and Nutrition framework (FAO, 2019) which was aimed at harnessing the benefit of this connectedness.

Achieving the Education For All (EFA), 2000 – 2015, was not easy in places where there were vulnerable children, poorly funded education system and poverty. “Only a third of the countries reached global education goals (UNESCO, 2015). Poverty, health, education and nutrition has been seen, (in the light of challenges encountered in previous interventions) to interact mutually.

Hence FAO (2004) considered the incorporating of nutrition into development. “Nutritional status is internationally recognized as an indicator of national development” (FAO (2019). This synergy between education, nutrition and health has been exploited by nations to make policies on nutrition (in addition to education), and researchers to study the interactions between the variables.

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Recently, Nigeria operated the Home- Grown School Feeding Strategic Plan, 2016 – 2020; in 12 (out of 36) states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The plan was aimed at reducing hunger and malnutrition among school children in the bid to achieve education for all goals (universal basic education) FGN (2004).


In this plan, a free nutritionally balanced hot meal per day was provided for the pupils in public primary schools, in the selected schools in the six geopolitical regions of the country. This has attracted several studies (Taylor & Ogbogu, 2016; Eigbobo & Onyejaka, 2020; Oluwakemi, et al 2014; Banwat, et al, 2020; and Oladaya& Tinubu, 2020).

The results of the studies suggest that the school feeding enhanced school enrolment, school attendance, health and academic performance of the pupils amidst the challenges encountered in the implementation. Similar results were obtained from studies in other countries that have practiced home-grown school feeding (Maset & Aulo, 2013, World Bank & World Food Programme 2012; Rono, 2010).

In addition, the importance of eating habits gained in childhood is emphasized in bone development, increase in cognitive ability and school performance, and in the prevention of some diseases seen in later ages. The school environment is of great importance in reinforcing the healthy eating habits acquired in childhood.

One of the important reasons underlying the healthy diet of pupils in school nutrition may be that pupils come to school ready to learn and gain healthy eating habits in their later lives. Health education given at school can play an active role in acquiring healthy eating habits throughout life (Follong et al., 2020; Hurley, Yousafzai & Lopez-Boo, 2016; Mahumud et al., 2022).

It is of great significance to provide energy intake balance and optimum nutrition in childhood. A healthy diet has been linked to academic achievement, physical performance, and improved cognitive and psychomotor level for both children and adults (Akdeniz et al., 2016; David et al., 1984; Pollitt & Lewis, 1980; De Groot et al., 2012; Vassiloudis, Yiannakouris, Panagiotakos, Apostolopoulos and Costarelli, 2014).

Since adolescence children are in the growth process, their nutritional requirements are different from adults. In this period, inadequate and unbalanced nutrition negatively affects both the physical development and learning ability of the child. In order for school-age children to be successful in the education process, healthy conditions must be provided (Contento, 2007).

In this context, people who influence, direct and train human health should have sufficient nutritional knowledge. In particular, teachers’ nutritional knowledge should be sufficient and they should transfer this knowledge to pupils in order for pupils to gain proper nutrition and health eating habits. Therefore, this study aimed to examine childhood nutrition and healthy eating habit in primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area.


1.2       Statement of the Problem

During childhood stage, children in school exert a lot of energy physical, psychomotor and cognitive domain. Therefore, good nutrition is paramount during this stage of life. If malnutrition occurs at this stage, it could result to serious negative effect on the health, intellectual development and academic performance of the affected child. School aged children constitute an important segment in any society because they represent the future of that generation. They comprise between 20% and 30% of the population (Chukwuemeka and Ojike-Chijioke, 2018).

It has been observed that because of the substantial reduction in child death rates, more than 90% of the world’s children are now surviving beyond the age of 5 years and as a result, there are now more children attending school than ever before. In spite of improvement in the survival of school age children, there is still a major burden of disease and ill health among this group as a result of poor nutrition practices and poor eating habit

Poor nutrition practices precipitates micronutrient deficiencies. These compromises children’s development, school attendance and ability to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain a good formal education. It is important to monitor the nutritional status and eating habit of the school age children especially with the emerging double burden of malnutrition in developing countries like Nigeria. Therefore, this study aimed to examine childhood nutrition and healthy eating habit in primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area.

1.3       Purpose of the study

The main purpose of this study will be to examine childhood nutrition and healthy eating habit in primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area. Specifically, the study will aimed to examine:

  1. the eating habits of primary school pupils
  2. the knowledge of the pupils about nutrition
  3. the general appearance of the pupils
  4. the relation between the pupils’ nutritional status and their educational performance
  5. the relation between gender and the pupils nutritional status
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 1.4      Significance of the Study

  1. The study will be helpful to the school administration to provide children healthy food through proper monitoring and evaluation systems.
  2. Parents will get awareness about the unhealthy and unhygienic food that their children buy from these stalls and carts.
  3. The study will serves the school-aged children as their guide or reference in making a good decision in eating healthy foods. It will also help the pupils and pupils to increase their awareness in every food they eat and their eating habits as well.
  4. The study will help the parents to bring awareness to their children and have deeper understanding of what food their children must eat. Also, it will benefit the parents in making the good choices of what food to eat and to avoid.
  5. The study will help the school administrators to increase awareness and more information about the said topic. It will be their means of bringing up to the pupils and pupils on what a healthy life is.
  6. This study will allow the teachers to add up the information present in the study to their lesson plans and strategies. This will serve as their guide to proper health education, especially those teachers who are major in health education.
  7. By this study, researcher will come up with recommendations if what is the right food to eat and the correct eating habits.
  8. The study will benefit and help the future researchers as their guide.

1.5       Research Questions

The following research questions will guided the study:

  1. What are the eating habits of the primary school pupils?
  2. What is the knowledge of the pupils about nutrition?
  3. What is the general appearance of the pupils?
  4. Is there a relation between the pupils’ nutritional status and their educational performance?
  5. Is there a relation between gender and the pupils nutritional status?

1.7       Limitations of the Study

Some of the challenges encountered while conducting the research include lack of sufficient funds and short duration assigned for the study.

1.8       Delimitation of the Study

 For the purpose of effective research work, this study will be delimited to childhood nutrition and healthy eating habit in primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area.

1.9       Operation Definitions of Terms

The following terms will be defined as it will be used in the study:

  • Childhood
  • Nutrition
  • Childhood Nutrition
  • Eating habit
  • Healthy Eating habit
  • Primary School




The chapter presents will be reviewed under the following sub-headings:

Conceptual Framework

The concept of Childhood Nutrition

The Concept of Eating Habit

 Theoretical Framework

Human Capital Theory (HCT) by Smith (1776)

The Eating Habits of primary school pupils

The relation between the pupils’ nutritional status and their educational performance

  Childhood nutrition and healthy eating habit in primary schools

Empirical Review

Summary of Literature Review 



This chapter will explains the methodology that will be use in the research as follows: Area of study, research design, population of the study, sampling and techniques, instrumentation, validation of instrument, administration of instrument, method of data Analysis.

3.1       Area of the Study

The study was conducted in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Uyo is one of the thirty one (31) Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State. Uyo is the state capital of Akwa Ibom State. It lies between latitude 5.05°N and longitude 80°E which is within the equatorial rainforest belt also a tropical zone. Uyo is a home vegetation of green foliage of trees, shrubs and oil palm trees. The population of Uyo Local Government Area is 309,573 with about 153,440 males and 156,450 females according to the 2006 National Census.

Uyo has boundaries with Abak, Itu, Uruan, Ibesikpo Asutan, Etinan and Ibiono Ibom Local Government Areas. Uyo Local Government Area as a people has diverse unique traditions and culture. In mode of dressing, there is “Uwawangofongisin” for men and “Ndot-iba” for women. They also have “Afiaefere”, “EfereAfang” and “EkpangNkukwo”, as part of their delicacies.

For entertainment, they have cultural plays and dances such as “Ebre” and “Abang” dance for women; while men have “Ekpo” and “mbok”. The people of Uyo by way of religion are predominantly Christians, though they still practice traditional worship of deities like “Idiong”, “Ndem”, and “Ibok” some of which are associated with each of the four clans that make up Uyo.

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The people of Uyo practice farming and trading as part of their occupation. Currently, some indigene has gone into transportation business, establishment of cottage industries for fabrication, production of furniture household utensils and farm tools. Uyo is blessed with several mineral resources which include deposit of various stones, clay, sand and crude oil.

Uyo Local Government area has several tourist centres which include the Ibom Plaza, E-Library, Ibom Tropicana, Le Meridien Hotel and Golf resorts amongst others. However, there are fifteen secondary schools, forty seven primary schools and two prominent tertiary institutions which are University of Uyo and Uyo City Polytechnic. This information known to the researcher makes the researcher to carry out this study in this environment.


3.2       Research Design

The study will adopted Cross-sectional survey.

3.3       Population of the study

The population of the study will consist of 1760 pupils in primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area.

3.4       Sample and Sampling Technique

Sample size will be calculated using openEpi based on the following assumptions: significance Level 0.05, power of the study 90%, 5% margin of error, the proportion of good knowledge based on previous research 30%. The estimated sample size was 300. A cluster random sample will be obtained from entire public mixed primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area, including children aged from 7-12 years.

3.5       Instrument for data collection

A self-administered questionnaire will be develop by the researcher that will consist of two parts: Part I: Socio-demographic data of school children as age, gender, previous school performance, family income, parent’s education and occupation.

Part II: consisted of the student knowledge about nutrition composed of 21 close-ended questions about the components of healthy food, sources and the importance of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and the importance of nutrition for health. Scoring of pupils’ knowledge is marked as a point to each correct answer and each wrong answer as zero. Items score summarized and grouped into three levels as follows: Good; 75% or more (score: 15.75 -21), Fair; 50% – < 75% (score 10.5 – < 15.75) and Poor; <50% (score 0 – < 10.5).

Secondly, self-administered questionnaire to assess dietary habits of the pupils. This part composed of 16 close- ended questions answered as “yes” or “no” as eating breakfast daily, drinking water, milk, eating three meals/day, taking sandwiches to school, drinking tea immediately after meals, drinking water while eating and prefer eating nuts. Scoring system of student’s habits, for each “yes” answer one point was given to summarize the maximum score of 16 points. Items categorized as healthy habits; ≥ 50% and bad habits; < 50%.

Thirdly, pupils health assessment sheet it covered 2 parts: part I. Anthropometric measurement of the pupils (weight, height, BMI). The weight was measured to an accuracy of 0.1 kg by electronic scale; the children worn light weight clothing and no shoes. The height of the child should be measured to the nearest 0.1 cm using a wooden stadiometer placed on a flat surface.

3.6 Validation and Reliability of Instrument

Content validity of the tool will be tested by the research supervisor

3.7       Administration of the Instrument

The researcher personally will visit each of the primary schools sampled and obtained permission from the school heads to administer the instrument. With due approval, the researcher therefore administered the questionnaire to the respondents. The completion of the questionnaire will be supervised adequately by the researcher and collection was done on the spot. The administration was done within the interval of two (2) weeks.

3.8       Method of Data Analysis

The statistical analysis of the data will be carried out using the SPSS version 16.0. Data were described in the form of mean, frequency and proportion of quality data. Z-points of (<-2SD) were calculated to illustrate WAZ, HAZ underweight and stunting. The analysis of the data was made to verify the statistically significant difference between knowledge and academic achievement. Chi- square and a Pearson coefficient were used. The value of P ≤ 0.05 was statistically significant.



This chapter will contains the result of analyzed data presented in tables, interpreted and discussed according to the research hypotheses that guide the study.



This chapter will deals with summary, recommendations and conclusion.

Mr. Harrison

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