Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College, Tanzania
Title: Assessment of school policies and environment in promoting physical activity and nutrition toward prevention of non-communicable diseases among school age children in Moshi municipality, Tanzania
Mary V. Mosha, MSc Nutrition for Global Health (2014), MPH (2006) is a lecturer in community health department at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College with over 10 years of experience in research and teaching on various health issues such as malaria, childhood cataract, reproductive health, nutrition and non-communicable diseases.
Non communicable diseases are emerging rapidly in developing countries, while at the same time communicable diseases are still a challenge. In this study, we assessed the school policies and environment on promoting physical activities and nutrition in schools. This was a cross sectional study conducted in Moshi municipality. School policies were assessed through interviews with head teachers; information collected was on school policy, physical education and nutrition. School environment: playgrounds, competitive foods and sport equipment were assessed using an observation checklist. Anthropometric measurements; height and weight were taken from 1,255 pupils aged 9 to 16 years. IOTF values were used to categorize school children as normal, overweight or obese. Prevalence of overweight/ obesity was determined. School environments were conducive to allow different types of games to take place. 88% of the schools had playgrounds and 80% of the pupils were participating in physical activities. Overall, prevalence rates of overweight /obesity in school children was 7.4% (95% CI 6.0 to 8.9). The prevalence was higher in private schools 18.6% (95% CI 13.6 to 23.0) than in government schools 4.8% (95% CI 3.5 – 6.2). BMI Z scores was 0.03 (SD 1.3) and -0.6 (SD 1.1), T test p < 0.001. Underweight and stunting were found high in government schools. Tanzania is in early transitioning period, with a coexistence of both under nutrition and over nutrition. Public health strategies targeting school children are needed to prevent the emergence of NCDs and their risk factors including overweight and obesity.