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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


RODRIGUEZ-ESCOBAR, Gilma et al. Relationship between nutritional status and school absenteeism among students in rural schools. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2015, vol.17, n.6, pp.861-873. ISSN 0124-0064.

Objective To determine the nutritional status and prevalence of malnutrition and overweight in students in rural schools and their relationship with school absence rates. Methods Descriptive study carried out in 34 rural schools in Anapoima and La Mesa in 2013. A sample of 785 (82.4 %) students was selected by convenience sampling. The inclusion criteria were students registered for the period 2013 in grades 0-5 (ages 5-16) with parental consent and student assent. Weight and height of all subjects were taken. Overall absence rates and illness-related absence rates were recorded. Results 422 pupils were male (53.8 %) and 524 (66.8 %) had between 5-9 years old. A lower than average height for age occurred in 10.1 %(n=79) of the students. The thinness was recorded at 1.75 %(n=13), the overweight at 14.3 %(n=112) and the obesity at 4.5 %(n=45) of the students. The number of absence episodes per child per year due to any reason and due to disease was 5.7 and 1.4, respectively. Stunted growth and overweight students had a significantly higher number of absence days compared to students with adequate nutritional status (p <0.01). Stunted growth had the highest absence rates. Conclusions Malnutrition and obesity coexist in the study area. There is a significant relationship between school absence days (both general and illness-related) and stunting and overweight in students.

Keywords : Nutritional status; child; schools; rural population; absenteeism.

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