Background: Poor nutritional status among adolescent girls who are future potential mothers,
impacts their growth, cognitive development, immunity and work productivity.
Objective: We aimed to assess the nutritional status of female adolescent employees of the textile industry
of Tamil Nadu, as compared to that of former young female employees of the industry and adolescent
girls who have never been employed.
Methods: A cross sectional study was done in Nagapattinam district. Height and weight were measured
using standard procedures. Diet and physical activity were assessed using the Indian Adolescent
Health Questionnaire. Participants were enquired if they were diagnosed to have anaemia. Adolescent
girls who are currently employed in textile factories, women aged 16 to 28 who were employed in textile
factories in the past and adolescent girls who were never employed formed the 3 study groups,
with 107 participants in each group.
Results: As per the Body Mass Index, 45.8% of the current employees, 41.1% of the former employees
and 52.3% of the never been employed participants were underweight. Ever been diagnosed to
have anaemia (at-least once in their life time) was reported by 11.2% of the current employees, 16.8%
of the past employees and 4.7% of the never been employed adolescent girls. Significant differences
among the study groups regarding practice of health behaviours were observed, with more current
employees practising adverse health behaviours as compared to others.
Conclusion: Being underweight and/or anaemia are major public health problems among adolescent
girls, irrespective of their employment status. The study findings indicate the need for inculcation of
positive practice of health behaviours from childhood.