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Background of the Study

Malnutrition is a term which refers to both under nutrition (sub nutrition) and over nutrition (obesity). It can also be defined as the insufficient, excessive or imbalance consumption of nutrients. Nutrition plays a critical role in the ability of a growing child to develop well to adulthood as malnutrition causes stunted growth, muscle wasting, deficiency of various vitamins especially vitamin A and Zinc mineral. The Oxford advanced learners dictionary (2010) defines malnutrition as a poor health condition resulting from either lack of food or the right type of food. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2010) defines malnutrition as deficit in the necessary amount of micro-elements needed for the normal metabolism and functioning of the body such as potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium. It is worthy of note that there is an increased nutrient requirement during early growth and development in utero and in extra uterine life.  According to the National Health Service (NHS) United Kingdom. It is estimated that about three million people are affected by malnutrition and one in every three persons admitted to hospital or care homes in the United Kingdom are found to be malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Black et al (2013) estimate that under nutrition is the cause of three million child deaths annually. In Africa, it is estimated that an increase from 31% in the year 1990 to 43% in the year 2005 of deaths occur due to malnutrition, as a result 10.6 million deaths of under-five children every year (World Health Organization, 2015). In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health estimates that 41% of Nigerian children under age five years are malnourished, this accounts to 1.1 million deaths (Punch News, 2015). 

Statement of the Problem

Malnutrition in growing children is one of the major causes of child morbidity and mortality as up to 33% of children who die in Nigeria is due to the problem of malnutrition. At least 30 – 50% of all childhood death and 10 – 40% hospital admissions in developing countries occur as a result of malnutrition (WHO 2005).

Among growing children severe under nutrition increases risk of morbidity because malnourished children are susceptible to infection and with impaired cognitive development, poor social and emotional achievement and low economic productivity. In order to make a sustainable impact, intervention need to address direct cause and also the contextual factor poverty has been identified as a important determinant of severe malnutrition, the path way for this is complex. Improved economic performance has not automatically led to improved nutritional status, poverty increases susceptibility to poor nutritional outcome, a significant number of children brought up in poverty thrive. Therefore, adequate food is only one factor that is important.

The integration of psychosocial stimulation (the exposure of a child to a variety of experiences and the encouragement to explore the environment) into nutritional programs has been found to be an important element in adequately addressing malnutrition. This involves the development of parenting skills and promotion of change in the relationship between the parent and child. In any nutritional intervention, therefore knowledge of the beliefs and behaviors of parents is an important consideration.

As a first step in mobilizing resources to develop an appropriate intervention, a study was made to find out what is the parent perceptions towards malnutrition as a health problem in growing children, in a community like Gongi where the mother is the care giver and generally the parent who accompanies a child to hospital for the treatment of severe malnutrition, it is the parent who is the key to overcoming the consequences of severe malnutrition.

The aim of the present research is therefore to answer the question “what are the perceptions of parents towards malnutrition as a health problem in growing children at Gongi clinic.

Objectives of the Study

i.        The study aims to determine the perception of parents towards malnutrition.

ii.       To identify the cause of malnutrition.

iii.      To identify the consequences of malnutrition.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will enable the researcher understand the causes OF malnutrition, ascertain the effects of malnutrition and know mothers perception about malnutrition. The study will also help mothers realize the consequences of malnutrition, the knowledge of the incidence of malnutrition among growing children will enable Gongi clinic to educate parents more on the prevention of malnutrition.

Research Questions

i.                   What are the causes of malnutrition in growing children?

ii.                 How does malnutrition affect the growth and development of children?

iii.              What are the perception of nursing mothers towards malnutrition?

Scope of the Study

The research project covers parents attending Gongi clinic Maiduguri local government area Borno state on the issue of perception of parent towards malnutrition in growing children as a health problem.


Delay in collecting questionnaires as the clients visit the Infant Welfare Clinic in different days, difficulty in getting client attention and financial difficulty.       

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