a1 National Institute of Nutrition (Indian Council of Medical Research), Jamai Osmania PO, Hyderabad – 500 007, India
Objectives: To assess the nutrition knowledge levels and dietary intake pattern of schoolchildren belonging to two groups of different socio-economic status (SES; high income/high SES and low income/low SES).
Design: A purposive sampling method was employed. A validated food-frequency questionnaire was administered to assess the dietary intake of schoolchildren in four schools from two different socio-economic strata in the month of January 2001. The children were divided into two groups, one serving as the experimental group and the other as the control group.
Subjects: Two hundred and seventy-two children aged between 12 and 14 years.
Results: There was a significant improvement (P < 0.001) in the knowledge levels of high-SES schoolchildren as compared with low-SES schoolchildren. A significant difference was observed in the intake of protective foods like milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables and fruits between the two income groups. However, children from the high SES background preferred fast foods such as noodles and corn flakes to traditional foods. Irrespective of income group, most of the children consumed carbonated beverages.
Conclusions: There was a significant difference in the intakes of protective foods and fast foods between the different income groups. However, the increased intake of fast foods and carbonated beverages by the children irrespective of SES needs to be discouraged as a part of nutrition education. The study indicated the need for repeated interventions for improvement of nutrition knowledge levels in low-SES children.
(Received October 21 2002)
(Accepted April 03 2003)