Nutrition is a fundamental part of human life and good nutrition is essential for survival, physical growth, mental development, health and well-being. The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship between Nutritional Status and Academic performance of Primary School Children in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. School children from Primary three to six were used for the study and were from three randomly selected Primary Schools within Zaria and its environs in Kaduna State. A total of 759 pupils made up of 385 girls and 374 boys were assessed. Ethical clearance was obtained from Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Zaria and Self administered questionnaires were used which were completed by the parents or guardians of these children. Body anthropometrics such as height, weight, hip, waist, chest circumferences were measured using stadiometer and measuring tape from which BMI was calculated. The Nutritional status of the children were determined using the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) standard for BMI percentile, while the academic performance of the children were determined by finding the mean of the 5 subjects taken during their term examination. When a Childs BMI is less than 5th percentile is said to be Under weight , 5th percentile to less than 85th is said to be healthy weight, 85th to less than 95th percentile is said to be overweight, equal or greater than 95th percentile is said to be obese. The result of the present study showed that Overweight children performed better academically when compared to others with a mean academic score of 66.19±17.00, Underweight was observed to be more prevalent amongst the males than the females, while on the other hand, Overweight was more prominent in females than males. There was no statistical significant difference between the Nutritional status and Academic performance of the Primary School Children studied. The total number of children that were Underweight was 140 (71 males and 69 females) while a total number of 38 children were Overweight (12males and 26 females). Children whose parents attained tertiary education performed better academically than others. From the present study children whose parents are Civil servants performed better academically than others. This study also showed that a total number of 37 Children had a Heavy birth weight and tends to perform better academically than others while Children born in dry season perform better academically than children born in rainy season. Conclusively, this study showed that a high percentage of the population have Healthy weight, while only a small proportion was Obese. This could be a result of in balance in the food intake of the population and from the result the total number of children that were Overweight performed better academically than the Others which could mean that the children that were well fed and well nourished tend to do better academically than those that are not well fed and nourished.

The development of any nation or community largely depends upon the quality of education available to its citizens. It is generally believed that the basis for any true development must commence with the development of human resources (Akanle, 2007). Primary education is the foundation on which further education is built (Vegas and Petrow, 2008). Primary education has two main purposes. The first purpose is to produce a literate and numerate population that can jointly deal with problems both at home and at work. The second purpose is to serve as a foundation on which further education is built (Akanle, 2007).

Nutrition is a fundamental pillar of human life, health and development across the entire life span (FAO/WHO, 1992). From the earliest stages of foetal development, at birth, through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood and old age, proper food and good nutrition are essential for survival, physical growth, mental development, performance and productivity, health and well-being (WHO, 2000). Evidence has shown that physical growth and cognitive development in children are faster during early years of life, and that by the age of four years, 50 % of the adult intellectual capacity has been attained and before thirteen years, 92 % of adult intellectual capacity is attained (Vernon, 1976).

Evidence has shown that four (4 )% of the total children born in developing countries die of malnutrition before they are five years old (Toriola, 1990) and that the most affected are usually the children of illiterate parents in low socio-economic status that have low purchasing power in the economy (Adekunle, 2005). Quite a number of studies have shown that poor feeding and or recurrent infections as a result of poverty leads to stunted growth, substantial brain impairment, low intellectual competence and capacity to learn in children (Kerr et al., 2000; Ivanovic et al., 2002; Chang et al., 2002; Braveman and Gruskin, 2003; Liu et al., 2003; Adebisi, 2013).

Strong evidence exists that poor feeding practices are associated with stunted growth and delayed mental development (Mendez and Adair, 1999); and that there is a relationship between impaired growth status and both poor school performance and intelligence quotient (PAHO, 1998). The relationship between timely and quality dietary intake, brain size and academic performance has been documented (Strupp and Levitsky, 1995; Florey et al., 1995), and that a significant correlation exists between head circumference and intelligence quotient (1Q). This suggests that difference in human brain size could be relevant in explaining the differences in intelligence and academic performance, although genetic and environmental factors like socio-economic, socio-cultural and psychological factors could be direct or indirect co-determinants of both intelligence and school performance (Vernon et al., 2000; Wickett et al., 2000).

Head circumference is a physical index of both past nutrition and brain development and a good predictor of later intelligence of a child (Botting et al., 1998), and it is used as the most sensitive anthropometric index of prolonged under nutrition during the infancy, associated with intellectual impairment (Ivanovic, 1996). Traditionally, family status variables such as socio-economic status and parents' level of education have been regarded as predictors of children's academic achievement (Joan, 2009). Head circumference (HC) has been defined as an anthropometric indicator of both nutritional background and brain development (Ivanovic et al., 2004). Findings by other authors reveal that poor prenatal and postnatal HC growth results in poor outcomes in terms of the acquisition of cognitive and academic abilities by the child, and this group is followed by those children with prenatal brain compromise but satisfactory postnatal HC growth (Frisk et al., 2002).

Low maternal education is associated with slower fetal growth, and this effect appears to be stronger for growth of the head than for growth of other organs (Silva et al., 2010). Maternal intelligence quotient, home environment, ethnicity, and family size have been described as important predictors of child intelligence quotient (Cornelius et al., 2009). A 1-cm decrease in HC predicted a 1-point decrease in the Stanford–Binet composite score (Cornelius et al., 2009). Mother‘s educational background, gestational age, and HC at age 2 years could explain the achievement of appropriate schooling at age 8 years (Charkaluk et al., 2011).

Findings by other authors suggest that abnormal brain development after prenatal injury or postnatal nutritional deficits are responsible for cognitive deficits in preterm children (Abernethy et al., 2004). For all age and sex groups, Head circumference (HC) has been defined as an anthropometric indicator of both nutritional background and brain development (Ochiai et al., 2008).

Poor Nutritional status is one of the major causes of low academic performance and productivity in primary education which may affect the physical and cognitive development in children during their early years of life. This study seeks to address the causes of poor academic performance of pupils in selected primary schools in Zaria metropolis.

Identifying the variables that influence the achievement of school children is of great importance, because it would serve as an essential tool for Nigeria Universal Basic Education Board and other policy makers in the design of education policies. This would eventually lead to a rise in the quality of primary education and pupils nationally. The study would also add to the body of knowledge in the study area.

This study will shed more light into the current situation regarding the relationships between academic performance versus nutritional status, and family background of pupils from selected primary schools in Zaria metropolis. The outcome of the study is therefore expected to assist all stakeholders in Zaria, particularly at the basic education level, to fashion out appropriate strategies that would enhance the qualities of pupils.

1.4.1    Aim of Study
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between anthropometric parameters, nutritional status and academic performance of primary school children in Zaria, Kaduna State Nigeria.

1.4.2    Objectives of Study
The present study is designed to achieve the following objectives, to;

i.            assess the influence of Nutritional Status on Academic Performance of Primary School Children in Zaria Kaduna State Nigeria.

ii.             study the influence of anthropometric parameters on academic performance of Primary School Children in Zaria Kaduna State Nigeria.

iii.             assess the relationship between nutritional status and some anthropometric parameters of Primary School Children in Zaria Kaduna State Nigeria.

iv.            study the influence of parental social economic status on academic performance of Primary School Children in Zaria Kaduna State Nigeria.

It is therefore hoped that results of this study will assist parents and other stakeholders in understanding the influence of some anthropometric parameters on academic performance of these pupils. This will also help policy makers in the design and implementation of nutrition education program at primary school level. The study will create a data base on the influence of some anthropometric parameters and social status on academic performance of primary school children within Zaria metropolis.

This study sets out to test the following hypotheses:

i.                     There will be difference in academic performance of the school children due to difference in anthropometric parameters, nutritional and social status.

It is important to define some key concepts that have been used in order to clarify the context within which they are being used in this study.

i.            Nutritional status: Refers to the physical well-being of the child in weight and height.

ii.             Socio-demographic factors: These include age, gender, birth order, etc.

-          Sex: It is categorized into female or male.

-          Age: Refers to the age of the child as at last birthday. Parents help child in filling the child‘s age as at last birthday.

-          Birth order: Refers to child‘s position in the sib ship. Response are categorized into 1st, 2nd, 3rd or later born.

-          Family size: this refers to the total number of siblings there are in a family and was categorized into 1, 2, 3 and greater than or equal 4.

i.            Father’s occupation: Refers to the job of head of the family. For simplicity during analysis, these are grouped into civil servants, artisans, traders, private/company employee or farmer.

ii.             Mother’s occupation: Refers to the job of child‘s mother. These could be civil servant, artisan, housewife, trader, private/company employee, or farmer.

iii.             Father’s level of education: This refers to the highest level of education of child‘s father. This was categorized as none, primary, secondary, or tertiary education.

iv.            Mother’s level of education: This refers to the highest level of education of child‘s mother. This was categorized as none, primary, secondary, or tertiary education.

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