1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nutrition education is any combination of educational strategies, accompanied by environmental supports, designed to facilitate voluntary adoption of food choices and other food- and nutrition- related behaviour conducive to health and well-being.
Nutrition education is delivered through multiple venues and involves activities of the individual, community, and policy levels (Jones and Bartletti, 2007).
This definition has been adopted by the society for nutrition education and behaviour and was authored by Dr. Isobel Contento, a leading authority in nutrition education. The work of nutrition educators takes place in colleges, universities and schools, government agencies, cooperative extension, communications and public relations firms, the food industry, voluntary and service organizations and with other reliable places of nutrition and health education information.
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) published a position paper regarding the nutritional needs of teenagers. This paper stated that the health of adolescents is dependent on normal dietary intakes and that the provision of foods that contain adequate energy and nutrients was essential for physical, social and cognitive growth and development.
Adequate nutrient intake during adolescence is very important for many reasons. Adolescence is a particularly unique period of life because it is a time of intense physical, psychological and cognitive development.
Adolescence is a transition phase to adulthood. The age of adolescence encapsulates a window of time when bodies are metamorphosing and evolving into that of an adult. It is a time when the adolescent tries to establish his own identify yet desperately seeks to be socially accepted by his peers (Lulinski, 2001). During adolescence hormonal changes accelerate growth in height. Growth is faster than at any other time in the individual’s life except the first year (Brasel, 1982). Increased nutritional needs at this juncture relate to the fact that adolescents gain up to 50% of their adult weight, more than 20% of their adult height and 50% of their adult skeletal mass during this period (Brasel, 1982). The adolescent therefore face series of serious nutritional challenges which would impact on this rapid growth spurt as well as their health as adults. However, the adolescent remain a largely neglected, difficult to-measure, hard-to-reach population. Consequently, the needs, particularly those of adolescent girls are often ignored (Kurz and Johnson-Welch, 1994).
At this developmental stages, protein requirements maximal. Increased physical activity, combined with poor eating habit and other considerations, for example, menstruation, oral contraceptive use and pregnancy contribute to accentuating the potential risk for adolescents of poor nutrition.
1.1 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Poor nutritional choices and practices have been shown to increase during adolescence; the need for nutrition education becomes clear. It is important that health educators look into nutrition education and its impact on the dietary habits of adolescent females. Several studies have been conducted that show how nutrition education impacts the dietary habits of adolescents.
These studies have reviewed the effect of nutrition education on adolescent athletes and have analyzed how nutrition education impacts snack patterns.
The main nutritional problems affecting adolescent populations in particular include under-nutrition in terms of stunning and wasting. Others are deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron and vitamin a, obesity and other specific nutrient deficiencies (Kurz and Johnson-Welch, 1994).
Adolescents because they are still growing, who enter into marriage with poor nutritional status are likely to give birth to smaller infants than mature women of the same nutritional status (WHO, 1995) because of the competition for nutrients between the growing adolescent and the growing fetus (Scholl et al, 1990) andpoorer placental function (Colson, 1987). Undernourished adolescent girls and women give birth to underweight and often stunned babies. These infants are less able to learn as young children and are more likely themselves to be parents to infants with intrauterine growth.
Retardation and low birth weight. However, they are less able to generate livelihoods and are less equipped to resist chronic diseases in later life. Such lifecycle and intergenerational links demand sustained, long term ameliorative action (ACC/SCN, 2000) which this study aims to provide.