Orphanage Children in Ghana: Are Their Dietary Needs Met?
Nourishing the body is a basic human right. The literature argued that children are born with the potential to develop both physically and emotionally. However, socioeconomic and environmental factors affect the health and nutrition of many children in developing countries. Little research has been done on the dietary needs of children living in orphanages in Ghana. The main objective of the study was to determine the nutritional status, food consumption patterns and dietary intake of the orphanage children. A non-experimental, descriptive action research with a multi-methodological approach was used. This study was conducted in an orphanage in Tamale. Forty children, 22 boys and 18 girls, aged 2-18 years and 23 orphanage workers formed the sample. Methods included on site observation, completion of a standard demographic questionnaire, a validated quantitative food frequency questionnaire and anthropometric measurements. The nutritional status indicated that, 10% and 15% of the children were severely stunted and wasted respectively (<-2) Z score. The dietary intake data showed energy intakes for the children aged 1-3 years as 963 kcal, 7-10 years as 1627.4 kcal and 11-14 years as 1547.53 kcal and 15-18 years as 1540.6 kcal. Protein intake for the same age groups was 33, 52.1, 50.6 and 49.3 g respectively, with fat 27 g, 33.9 g, 31.9 g, 31.9 g and carbohydrate 150 g, 284.3 g, 269.1 g and 296.1 g respectively. The top five most frequently consumed foods were coffee (232 ml) and tea (232 ml), maize meal (109 g), bread (77 g), white rice (55 g). Protein was limited with anchovies ("Keta schoolboys") and beans as the only source. Orphanage children are vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community, especially if measures to provide adequate dietary intakes in terms of macro-and micronutrient are not in place. The findings indicated low intake of both macro-and micronutrients with the exception of protein. Nutritional status indicated that, 10% and 15% of the children were severely stunted and wasted respectively (<-2) Z score. The results of this study formed the basis for a nutrition education and training programme that was implemented in the orphanage.