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Understanding the effect of nutritional knowledge, dietary intake, physical activity and assessing the anthropometric measurements of Dlangezwa high school learner's.

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The purpose of the study was to understand the effect of nutritional knowledge on physical activity, dietary intake, and anthropometric measurements in high-school learners. The study further underscored the value of healthy eating habits and nutritional education in relation to adolescents' overall health. The aim of the study was to understand the high school learners' nutritional awareness, determine their dietary consumption, assess their anthropometric measurements, and analyze whether high school girls are physically active or less active. A total of 202 survey questionnaires were administered to teenage girls, from grade 10 to 12, who were purposefully selected to participate in the study. In-depth interviews were undertaken with various learners in order to evaluate their food consumption and dietary habits. We measured weight and height to determine body mass index (BMI). The growth reference data chart for ages 5 to 19 from the World Health Organization (WHO) was used to assess the weight classification of learners. Inference about the collected data was made using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings of the study showed that there was a strong association between age and food group consumption (p < 0.001), which indicates that age has a significant effect on diverse food intake. Hence, it was noted that, as the learner's age increases, their food consumption also increases. It is noteworthy that the intake of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables was noticeably poor for all the grades. With regard to consumption percentage, spinach and amaranth leafy vegetables were consumed at a rate below 2%, while consumption of vitamin A-rich vegetables such as butternut, carrot, beetroot, etc., was at a rate less than 5% amongst all the learners. Other vegetables, like cabbage and eggplant, were eaten at a rate of less than 30%. The intake of sugar from chocolate, candy, and fizzy drinks such as soda and tonic water was significantly high for all learners. In general, confectionary sugar intake was 85% of all grades. Also, the rate of fat consumption by learners ranged from 48% to 72%, with grades 10 and 12 having the highest percentage of fat consumption, ranging around 72% and 53%, respectively. From the results of the study, it could be stipulated that learners studying in lower grades, such as grade 10 learners, have better nutrition knowledge and dietary intake when compared to grade 12 learners. Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements indicated that the majority of learners are overweight, which was positively linked to the age of the learners at 25 kg/m2 or higher for females aged 0 to 19 years. The research found that as the age of learners or grade level increased, so did their BMI. The involvement of learners in all physical activities was tracked, and the percentage of participation was generally low in all grades, ranging from 1–26%. Physical activity participation, duration, and frequency all decrease as grade level rises. Generally, it could be inferred that as far as age is concerned, teenagers are at risk of becoming overweight and obese because they are not vigilant about their diets, so they eat high-fat content foods and sugary foods. On the other hand, the students consumed fewer fruits and vegetables and were not physically active. The findings reveal prevalent nutrition awareness in the grades, but also found a higher proportion of overweight students than is recommended. Programs from the government, community, and parents are required to encourage adolescent girls to improve their diet, level of physical activity, and weight control.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.