Nutritional Status of Preschool and School Age Children among Coastal Barangays in Guimaras Province Affected by the Oil Spill


by: Lucifino V. Firmo


The study describes the nutritional status of seven hundred ten (710) preschool- and schoolage children found in 615 households surveyed in Guimaras province using the following anthropometric indicators: Mid-upper Arm Circumference (MUAC), Weight for Age (WFA), and Weight for Height (WFH). The effect of the oil spill on the nutritional status of preschoolers is examined by comparing the proportion of children who were normal, below normal or underweight and overweight/obese using Weight for Age data “before” and “after” the oil spill. Preliminary screening of the nutritional status of the children using the Mid-upper Arm Circumference showed that 74.4% of them have values below normal indicating that they are at risk of developing malnutrition. Twenty seven percent (27.0 %) of the preschoolers were underweight and 4.3 % were overweight. Among the school-age children, 12.3% were thin and 2.8% were obese. Comparison of the proportion of undernourished preschool-age children “before” and “after” the oil spill revealed a statistically significant Odds Ratio (OR) of 2.59 (C.I. 1.62, 4.16), which indicated that the likelihood of developing malnutrition is 2.5 times higher after the oil spill than it was before the incident. The effect of confounding factors like food and caloric intake, presence of infections, health status and physical activity were not analyzed. In view of the depressed nutrition situation of the oil spill affected barangays, the author recommends the immediate implementation of nutrition interventions targeting the households with malnourished children.