Effects of Nutritional Status on Academic Performance of Malaysian Primary School Children

Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 1.46). 02/2005; 17(2):81-7. DOI: 10.1177/101053950501700204
Source: PubMed


Numerous factors are known to affect the academic performance of students. These include prenatal conditions, birth conditions, postnatal events, nutritional, socio-economic factors and environmental factors. This paper examines the nutritional status and its relationship with academic performance of 9-10 years old primary school children recruited randomly in Selangor, Malaysia. A standard self-administered questionnaire was utilized to obtain pertinent information and a face-to-face interview was also conducted with the parents. Results of the academic performances were extracted from the students' report cards. The intellectual performance was assessed using Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices. Physical examination was also conducted on these students by doctors. Overall 1,405 students and 1,317 parents responded to the survey. Of these 83.6% were Malays, 11.6% Indians, and 4.2% Chinese. The majority of them (82.9%) were from urban areas. The female: male ratio was 51:49; mean age was 9.71 years. The mean height and weight were 32.3 kg and 135.2 cm respectively. Their mean BMI was 17.42 kg/cm2, with 0.9% underweight, 76.3% normal BMI, 16.3% overweight, and 6.3% obese. Academic performance was significantly correlated with breast feeding, income and educational level of their parents, BMI, and whether they have been taking breakfast. There was a weak correlation between presence of anaemia and intellectual performance. Improving the socio-economic status of the parents will lend a helping hand in the academic performance of the students. Since breast feeding is associated with better academic and intellectual performance it must be emphasized, particularly to expectant mothers in the antenatal clinics.

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