An evaluation of the nutrient intake by dietary recall of grade V school children in a low income area of Winnipeg

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Smirl, Carol Ann
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A sample population of grade V elementary school children living in a low income area of central Winnipeg were surveyed, in order to determine their daily nutrient intakes as well as their nutrient intakes and food habits at lunch with a view to demonstrating the need for a school lunch program. It was hypothesized that the daily nutrient intakes of the children would be below the Canadian Dietary Standard and that their nutrient intakes at lunch would be less than one-third of the Standard. Therefore, a school lunch program would likely benefit these children with regard to improving their nutrient intakes. Twenty-four hour recall records were used to obtain the food intake data and questionnaires were used to gather information about the food habits at lunch. Nutrient intakes for each child and mean intakes for each of the eight schools surveyed were obtained by computer analysis. Daily nutrient intakes were divided into three meals and three snacks in order to determine the adequacy of the noon lunch particularly. Anthropometric measurements for weight, height, and triceps skinfold were obtained for each child and were compared to Canadian average values. Analysis of the 24-hour recall data showed that the nutrients most frequently below the Canadian Dietary Standard were calcium, iron, and ascorbic acid as well as kilocalories. The same nutrients were found to be present in less than one-third of the recommended allowances for lunch. It was also observed that more children omitted the morning meal than omitted the noon meals. Analysis of the lunch questionnaires showed that the majority of the children went home for the noon meal. Althiough there appeared to be a trend for the twelve-year-old girls to have the poorest nutrient intakes as compared to the ten- and eleven-year-old children, statistical significance could not be shown. It is recommended that food supplements directed at increasing the specific nutrient deficiencies of calcium, iron, and ascorbic acid, as well as kilocalories, would be more beneficial to this group of children than a complete school lunch. As a major part of the food supplement program, nutrition education should be an important component in order to teach the children good food habits.