In Nigeria today with the level of exposure and improvement in knowledge on health, food and nutrition, there have being a significant growth in the mental status of school aged children (Benton, 2009).
Nutrition is usually considered to be important for physical health but mental health must be taken as equally important. Research in the field has shown that nutrition is one of many factors that potentially influence a child’s development besides genetic, socio-economic, environmental and behavioural factors (Associate Parliamentary & Health, 2008; Bryan et al., 2004). Understanding the relationship between nutrition and mental performance in children is important regarding their attainment and productivity both in school and in later life (Alderman, Behrman, Lavy, & Menon, 1997; Florence, Asbridge, & Veugelers, 2008). To date, there is a growing body of evidence that diet might influence the development and functioning of the brain which in turn has an effect on mental performance as a functional outcome, especially when the brain is still developing during childhood and early adolescence (Benton, 2008a).
A diet containing too many ingredients that are detrimental in excess or lacking essential nutrients is likely to have adverse consequences for mental outcomes (Associate Parliamentary & Health, 2008) whereas a balanced diet is important for physical wellbeing and mental health, with implications for school performance (Associate Parliamentary & Health, 2008; Florence et al., 2008). Thus, children should have a varied diet with good nutritional content and regular intake to ensure the best possible cognitive development and performance (Bellisle, 2004). Since parents are seen as gate keepers to a child’s diet and provide the key environment for the development of a child’s eating behaviours (Birch & Davison, 2008; K. A. Brown, Ogden, Vogele, & Gibson, 2008), they constitute an important group of consumers for nutritional communication through policies, public health intervention programmes as well as through health claims on functional food products. Parents influence all aspects of a child’s life to some degree including the development of food choices as well as controlling the availability and types of food in the home (R. Brown & Ogden, 2004; Golan & Crow, 2004). Moreover, parents’ own eating behaviours influence those of their children (Birch & Davison, 2005) and thus the family provides a key environment for young children to learn and develop eating habits and food preferences. As children grow and attend school other people such as peers and teachers become more important influences (Perez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2006) and children gradually become more independent of their parents. The family is seen as one of the major contexts of a child’s development which includes cognitive development and achievement (Scott-Jones, 2004).
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
Over the years in Nigeria there has been questionings as regards the performance of students in most schools in Nigeria. In Esan West for instance, it has been found that the rate of assimilation of school aged children is very poor despite the availability of instructional materials. Some of the problems might be as a result of malnutrition or over nutrition and this might have significant effect on the mental development of the school aged children in Esan West local government area of Edo state. Secondly there have been several research on the nutrition, malnutrition but not even a single study have been carried out on the effect of malnutrition on mental development of school aged children in Esan West local government area of Edo State
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The main aim of the research work is to determine the effect of nutrition on mental development of school aged children. Other specific objectives of the study are:
1. to determine the relationship between nutrition and the level of cognizance among school aged children in Esan West local government area
2. to determine the extent to which family background affect the nutritional intake of school aged children in Esan West local government area
3. to investigate on the factors affecting mental development among school aged children in Esan West local government area of Edo State
4. to proffer solution to the above stated problems
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study came up with research questions so as to ascertain the above stated objectives of the study. The research questions for the study are:
1. What is the relationship between nutrition and the level of cognizance among school aged children in Esan West local government area?
2. To what extent does family background affect the nutritional intake of school aged children in Esan West local government area?
3. What are the factors affecting mental development among school aged children in Esan West local government area of Edo State?
1.5 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: there is no significant relationship between nutrition and the level of cognizance among school aged children in Esan West local government area
H1: there is significant relationship between nutrition and the level of cognizance among school aged children in Esan West local government area
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study on the effect of nutrition on mental development of school aged children will be of immense benefit to parents, the school aged children in Esan West local government area of Edo state and other researchers that desire to carry out similar research on the above topic as the findings of the study will educate the above population on the nutrition, the benefit of nutrition, the relationship between nutrition and cognizance in Esan West L.G.A of Edo State. Finally the study will contribute to the body of existing literature and knowledge in this field of study and provide a basis for further research
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
The study on the effect of nutrition on mental development of school aged children will be limited to Esan West local government area of Edo state from 2004 to 2018
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Balance diet: It is the diet that contains the six class of food taken in a right proportion.
Unbalance diet: It is the diet that those not contains the six classes of food.
WHO: World Health Organization
Poor Nutrition: The deficiency intake of food nutrient by the body.
Marasmus: A condition result fro taking food that is very low in calorific value.
Calorific Value: Nutrient value.
Nutrition: the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth