THE INFLUENCE OF AGE ON DIETARY HABITS OF SECONDARY SCHOOL ADOLESCENTS, ITS EDUCATION IMPLICATION IN CALABAR EDUCATION ZONE OF CROSS RIVER STATE, NIGERIA.
*Chabo, Joy Awu U., Dr. Esuong, A E. and Paulina Ackley Akpan-Idiok
This study was conducted to determine the influence of age on dietary habits of secondary school adolescents in Calabar education zone of Cross River State, Nigeria. Two research questions and one hypothesis were formulated to guide the study. The descriptive survey design was employed. The stratified sampling technique was used to select the sample size. The population comprised of secondary school students in public secondary schools in Calabar Education zone. A sample of 24 secondary schools was selected for the study which had a total of 2,709 SS 2 students from which 542 were selected as sample. A validated four point Likert scale Adolescents’ Dietary Habits Questionnaire (ADHQ) was used for data collection. The data gathered were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). The only hypothesis was tested at 0.05 level of significance. The result of the study revealed that age does not significantly influence the dietary habits of adolescents (P> ay 0.05 level of significance). The test of the second research question using percentage and mean score revealed that the students who demonstrated abnormal dietary habits were 50.6% for sugar consumption, 62.2% for skipping of breakfast, 50.4% for the habit of eating out of the house, 61.1% for snacking most often and 43.3% for poor consumption of fruits and vegetables. More of the students within ages 15-17 years (71%) skipped their breakfast often while more of those within ages 18-20 and above (80.7%) consumed snacks often. Based on the findings, recommendations made included that the Government of Cross River State should take a step forward and implement the National policy on School Health Programme which includes making available healthy foods for the students and that school administrators should employ the services of Nutrition Educators to provide sound nutrition information for the students and parents.[Full Text Article]