To investigate the association between dietary patterns, nutritional knowledge and anemia among school children in Morocco.
253 children were chosen randomly from 5 public schools. Anthropometric measurements were taken using standardized methods, whereas haemoglobin was assessed using a hemocue instrument. Dietary patterns and nutritional knowledge were evaluated using a structured questionnaire, dietary intake was evaluated using 24h recall.
The median age 9.58 (8.83â10.33) years; mean z-score BMI (-0.15±1.31) kg/m2.The proportion of anemic children (haemoglobin<11.5g/dL) was 28.8%; 11.8% of these had mild and 17.1% had moderate anemia. Dietary patterns of children showed that 51.5% reported skipping breakfast, 71.2% never consumed milk and 50.0% eating fast foods at least three times per week.The unadjusted odds ratio (OR) showed that children who never consumed milk had a three-fold increased odds of being anemic [OR=3.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) =1.6-7.8; P=0.001], whereas those who consumed fast foods at least three times per week had an 0.2 increased risk [OR=0.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) =0.1-0.5; P=0.001]. Anemia among children was also found to be associated with limited nutrition knowledge. The proportion of children with less nutrition knowledge was 73.2%. These children were four times more likely to be anemic [OR=4.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) =1.9-11.2; P=0.001].
Poor dietary habits and nutritional knowledge were associated with anemia. Appropriate nutrition interventions are needed to promote healthy dietary habits among school children.keywords: Anemia, Hb, dietary patterns, nutrition knowledge, school children.