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Food Nutr Bull. 2006 Sep;27(3):260-4.

Nutrition education alone improves dietary practices but not hematologic indices of adolescent girls in Iran.

Author information

  • 1Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Paramedicine, Ahvaz Jundi-Shapour University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran. rezaamani@hotmail.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Iron-deficiency anemia is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide. Iron-deficiency anemia has particular negative consequences on women in their childbearing years, and its prevention is a high priority in most health systems.

OBJECTIVE:

This interventional study assessed the effect of nutrition education on hematologic indices, iron status, nutritional knowledge, and nutritional practices of high-school girls in Iran.

METHODS:

Sixty healthy 16- to 18-year-old girls were randomly selected from two high schools in the city of Ahvaz and divided into two equally matched groups, one that received nutrition education, and one that did not. The education group received instruction in face-to-face sessions, group discussions, and pamphlets for 2 months. The control group did not receive any information during the study. Hematologic tests, corpuscular indices, and serum ferritin levels were measured at baseline and after 2 months. Food-frequency questionnaires were administered and histories taken, clinical signs of nutritional deficiencies observed, anthropometric measurements taken, nutritional knowledge tested, practices determined, and lifestyle questionnaires administered to all subjects.

RESULTS:

There were no statistically significant differences in any baseline characteristics between the two groups. Scores for nutritional knowledge and practices of the education group were significantly higher after two months compared with the baseline (31.4 +/- 6 vs. 24.3 +/- 5.9 points, p < .001, and 31.2 +/- 5 vs. 28.4 +/- 5.7 points, p < .05, respectively). The scores in the control group showed no significant changes from baseline to 2 months. Mean corpuscular volume values were elevated in the education group (p < .001) but not in the control group. However, in the control group, serum ferritin concentrations showed about a 17% drop at the end of the study (p < .004). There were no changes in other hematologic, lifestyle, clinical, or anthropometric data compared with baseline after completion of the study in both groups.

CONCLUSION:

These findings indicate that nutritional education can improve knowledge of healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices. Focused nutritional education using available resources and correcting current dietary habits in a vulnerable group of young women may result in dietary changes that can ultimately improve iron intake.

PMID:
17542117
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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