Background: Under-nutrition in school-age children has proven to be responsible for
poor academic performance as well as declined work capacity and poor health/reproductive function
later in life. Nutritional assessment is key to monitoring the effectiveness of intervention programs
aimed at reducing under-nutrition. Yet, there is a gross absence of national data on the nutritional
status of school-age children.
Objective: This study was designed to pool existing recent data on anthropometrically determined
under-nutrition prevalence of school-age children and provide a clear picture of the regional and national
malnutrition situation of school-age children in Nigeria.
Methods: Published studies on the anthropometric status of school-age children in Nigeria from
2005 to 2019 were reviewed. Eligible studies were those that used the acceptable international
growth standards. A total of 27 articles that assessed 17,820 school-age children met the inclusion
Results: Results showed that 37.9% of studies had adopted the WHO 2007 growth reference. The
overall pooled stunting, underweight, and wasting/thinness prevalence of school-age children in
Nigeria are 25.5+20.4%, 24.4+18.8%, 20.6+17.4%, respectively. More than half of the studies had
their under-nutrition prevalence above the public health significance thresholds. Stunting (53.2%)
and underweight (36.9%) were most prominent in the North West region, while the South Southern
part of Nigeria had the highest prevalence of acute malnutrition (39.5%).
Conclusion: The study suggests that the inclusion of school-age children in national nutrition surveys
and scale-up of intervention programs will reduce this high under-nutrition prevalence.