Nutritional status and various morbidities among school children of a coastal area in South India

Sherin Billy Abraham, Ramesh Chand Chauhan, Muthu Rajesh, Anil Jacob Purty, Zile Singh


Background: Malnutrition and poor health among school children is the common cause of low school enrolment, high absenteeism, early dropout and poor classroom performance. This study was conducted to assess the various morbidities and nutritional status among school children.

Methods: This descriptive study was conducted during year 2013 in a higher secondary school located in a coastal area of Puducherry. A total of 714 students were interviewed and examined. A pre-designed and pre-tested questionnaire was used to interview and examine all the participated students. Body weight and height were measured using standardized procedures. WHO criteria for classification of nutritional status was used. Visual acuity and colour vision was assessed using Snellen’s chart and Ishihara’s pseudo isochromatic chart respectively. Mean scores and proportions were calculated and chi-square test was applied. P value of <0.05 was considered as statistically significant.

Results: Among 714 student, 369 (51.4%) were males and 345 (48.6%) were females. The mean age of children was 10.2 ± 3.1 years. Among all age groups and both sexes, the observed BMI was lower as compared to the reference values. The prevalence of underweight among children of 5-9 years was (30.7%) and (1.1%) were severely underweight. The prevalence of stunting was 10.4%, including 0.1% of severely stunted children. A total of 30.7% children were thin (low BMI for age). Pallor (39.5%), myopia (34.9%) and dental caries (14.7%) were the common morbidities observed among children. The pallor was observed more commonly among girls and this difference was statistically significant (p value <0.05).

Conclusion: Under-nutrition is a prevalent condition among school children. Apart from various nutritional programmes, health education to parents, community and school teachers are quite important to address this problem.



Nutritional status, School children, Morbidity pattern, India

Full Text:



Kishor J. National health programs of India. In: Kishor J, eds. A Book. 2nd ed. New Delhi: Century Publications; 2007: 441-447.

Panda P, Benjamin AI, Shavinder Singh, Zachariah P. Health status of school children in Ludhiana city. Indian J Community Med: 2000;25(4):150-5.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Guidelines of the school health programme, 2014. Available at: Accessed 7 November 2014.

WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition. Cut-off points and summary statistics, 2014. Available at: Accessed 7 November 2014.

CDC. Body Mass Index for age percentiles (2-20 years). Developed by national centre for health statistics in collaboration with the national centre for chronic disease prevention and health promotion, 2014. Available at: Accessed 12 November 2014.

Caulfield LE, de Onis M, Blossner M, Black RE. Undernutrition as an underlying cause of child deaths associated with diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and measles. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(1):193-8.

Ananthakrishnan S, Pani SP, Nalini P. A comprehensive study of morbidity in school age children. Indian Pediatr. 2001;38(9):1009-17.

Dhanasekaran J, Mayanathan J, Ponnappan A. Prevalence of underweight among government primary school children of Chennai. Academic Medical Journal of India. 2013;1(1):1-4.

Joice S, Velavan A, Natesan M, Singh Z, Purty AJ, Hector H. Assessment of nutritional status and morbidity pattern among school children in rural Puducherry. Acad Med J India. 2013;1(1):1-4.

Deb S, Dutta S, Dasgupta A, Misra R. Relationship of personal hygiene with nutrition and morbidity profile: a study among primary school children in South Kolkata. Indian J Community Med. 2010;35(2):280-4.

Shakya SR, Bhandary S, Pokharel PK. Nutritional status and morbidity pattern among governmental primary school children in the Eastern Nepal. Kathmandu Univ Med J. 2004;2(4):307-14.