Background: The prevalence of malnutrition in Nigerian orphanages is not clearly defined despite the high burden. This study was conducted to determine and compare the nutritional status of children living in orphanages and children living in the host communities.
Methods: It was a comparative cross-sectional study. A multistage sampling technique was used to select 180 under-five children each from orphanages and host communities. A pre-tested questionnaire was used to obtain data on socio-demographic characteristics and nutrient intake. Weight, height, mid-upper-arm circumference and nutrient intake were assessed following standard procedures. SPSS (version 20.0) was used for data entry and analysis. Association between variables was determined using Chi-square, t-test or Fisher’s exact tests and level of significance was set at p < 0.05.
Result: The mean age of the children in orphanages was 38.5 months while that of the children in the host communities was 38.3 months. Wasting and over-nutrition were significantly lower among children living in orphanages compared with those living in the host communities, (5.6% versus 14.4%, p=0.006) and (5.6% versus 13.9%, p=0.008), respectively. The proportion of children living in orphanages who met the Recommended Dietary Allowance for proteins (95%) was significantly higher than those in the host communities (88.9%), (p=0.033).
Conclusion: The nutritional status of children living in the orphanages was better than that of the children living in their host communities. More interventions on feeding infant and young children are needed in communities in Lagos State to ensure better nutritional status.