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Malawi Med J. 2013 Jun;25(2):45-9.

Prevalence and correlates of hunger among primary and secondary school children in Malawi: results from the 2009 Global School-based Health Survey.

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Department of Health Care Administration, Asia University, Taichung City, Taiwan.



Education is important in improving economies and creating literate, self-reliant and healthy societies. However, hunger is a barrier to basic education in Malawi. Hunger is also associated with a number of health risk behaviours, such as bullying, suicide ideation and unhygienic behaviours that may jeopardize the future of children. There are, however, limited data on the prevalence and associated factors of hunger among school children in Malawi.


The study used data from the Malawi Global School-Based Health Survey conducted in 2009 to estimate the prevalence of self-reported hunger within the last 30 days among primary and secondary school age group. It also assessed the association between self-reported hunger and some selected list of independent variables using frequency distribution, chi-squared test and logistic regression.


A total of 2359 students were available for analysis. The overall self-reported prevalence of hunger within the last 30 days was 12.5% (18.9% (172) in the rural and 8.3% (115) in urban areas; and 11.9%(123) for male and 12.5(148) for female children). In the final analysis, geographical location, eating fruits, having been bullied, suicide ideation, and washing hands with soap were significantly associated with hunger.


Hunger in both primary and secondary school children in Malawi is a major social problem. The design of school feeding programmes aimed to reduce hunger should incorporate the factors identified as associated with hunger.

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