Design, Methods, and Select Baseline Results from a School Nutrition Project for Adolescents in Bangladesh

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 7, April 2023
Demuyakor M.E., Jalal C., Williams A.M., Bouckaert K.P., Whitehead R.D., Bhuiyan M.M. et al.

Background: The School Nutrition for Adolescents Project (SNAP) provided weekly iron and folic acid (WIFA) supplementation and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) support for girls; actions to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices; and behavior change interventions to adolescents aged 10–19 y in 65 intervention schools in 2 districts of Bangladesh. Objectives: We aimed to describe the project design and select baseline results of students and school project implementers. Methods: Girls (n = 2244) and boys (n = 773) in 74 schools (clusters) and project implementers [headteachers (n = 74), teachers (n = 96), and student leaders (n = 91)] participated in a survey assessing nutrition, MHM, and WASH knowledge and experience. Hemoglobin, inflammation-adjusted ferritin, retinol-binding protein, and serum and RBC folate (RBCF) levels in girls were measured. School WASH infrastructure was observed and drinking water was tested for E. coli. Results: IFA and deworming tablet intake in the last 1 and 6 mo were 4% and 81% for girls and 1% and 86%, respectively. Applying the Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W) tool, most (63%–68%) girls and boys achieved minimum dietary diversity. Fewer adolescents (14%–52%) had ever heard of anemia, IFA tablets, or worm infestation than project implementers (47%–100%). Girls (35%) missed school during menstruation; 39% reported of ever leaving school due to unexpected menstruation. The micronutrient status and deficiency severity varied: anemia (25%), RBCF insufficiency (76%), risk of serum folate deficiency (10%), deficiencies of iron (9%), and vitamin A (3%). WASH in school sustainable development goal (SDG) indicators achievement varied: basic drinking water service (70%), basic sanitation service (42%), and basic hygiene service (3%); 59% of sampled drinking water access points complied with WHO E. coli standards. Conclusions: There is room for improvement of nutrition and health awareness, practices, micronutrient status, SDG basic WASH in-school services, and E coli contamination in school drinking water. This trial was registered in as NCT05455073.