Original Research

Longitudinal effects of stunting and wasting on academic performance of primary school boys: The North-West Child-Health-Integrated-Learning and Development study

Dané Coetzee, Wilmarié du Plessis, Deidré van Staden
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a863 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.863 | © 2020 Dané Coetzee, Wilmarié du Plessis, Deidré van Staden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 April 2020 | Published: 15 December 2020

About the author(s)

Dané Coetzee, Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation (PhASRec), Focus Area, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Wilmarié du Plessis, Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation (PhASRec), Focus Area, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Deidré van Staden, Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation (PhASRec), Focus Area, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: A worldwide occurrence like stunting and wasting affects both children’s health and academic performance.

Aim: The aim of the study was to determine the effect of stunting and wasting on academic performance amongst primary school boys over a period of 7 years (2010–2016) in the North West Province of South Africa.

Methods: The study forms part of a longitudinal research design, the North-West Child-Health-Integrated-Learning and Development (NW-CHILD) study, stretched over a period of 7 years from 2010 to 2016. Baseline measurements and two follow-up measurements of boys (n = 181) formed part of this study. Two-way frequency tables and Analyses of variance (ANOVA) tests were used to analyse the data (p ≤ 0.05).

Setting: The study was conducted in the North West Province of South Africa.

Results: The prevalence of stunting (3.32% – 6.63%) and wasting (3.86% – 6.63%) increased each year from 2010 to 2016. Language, mathematics and overall average academic scores were affected statistically by stunting and wasting (p ≤ 0.05). Over a period of 7 years (overall), it was found that stunting and wasting influenced academic performance, especially concerning language and mathematic subjects.

Conclusion: Stunted and wasted primary school boys in the North West Province of South Africa reported a strong negative association with academic performance, especially language and mathematic subjects. Limited data are available concerning stunting, wasting and academic performance, and further studies are therefore recommended to strengthen and support the findings of this study with regard to a better understanding of the effect.


Keywords

academic performance; boys; primary school; stunting; wasting

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