1.1 Background to the Study

The potential for health to improve cognitive function and physical performance among students has received the attention of Nigerian researchers and policy makers (Anyika, Uwaegbute, Olojede and Nwamarah, 2009). However, studies of dietary intake and physical performance have typically focused on hunger, malnutrition, and micro-nutrient deficiency (Keeley and Fox, 2009.). The predominant approach to studying dietary intake has focused on the role of individual nutrients or foods (Gerber, 2001). But students do not consume single nutrients, they rather consume combinations of foods (Ghosh and  Saha, 2013). This dietary intake has significant effect on the psycho-motor activity of students during school hours. Poor diet quality and overall health status of in-school adolescents are among the prominent factors implicated for poor physical performance during leisure period or sporting activities. This view is supported by Lynn (2011) who argued that students who do not have enough quality food to eat suffer physically more frequently than students who ate the proper amount of food. Other studies reported cases of stomach aches, headaches and colds more frequently among malnourished students than their well nourished counterparts (Lokadhia Manwa, 2013) . 

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1.2 Statement of the Problem

Dietary intake affects all age groups, but school age students tend to be among those most at risk of developing deficiencies. Poor dietary intake by Nigerian students may have the negative impact on their growth, development and physical performance. Nutritional deficiencies have far reaching consequences, especially in the development of physical features. To sustain life and maintain health, students require different nutrients. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre are known as macronutrients and are required in large amounts as they are energy giving foods. However, it has been noted that Nigerian students remain a neglected population; consequently, the needs of this group are often ignored. To ensure proper growth, development and maturation, students need an adequate energy intake. Students’ basal metabolic rate, physical activity and pubertal growth are the factors influencing their energy needs.

Unfortunately, the correlation between dietary intake and physical performance has been highly under-researched, but there exists many studies that look at the nutritional benefits of many proteins, vitamins, and food substances as they affect learning and brain function. This study therefore attempts to examine the influence of dietary intake on physical performance of secondary school students in Nigeria. It will use the research to help develop possible steps that schools and parents can take to ensure that the dietary adhere to the high standards of federal nutrition guidelines that are based upon the latest research.

1.3     Research Objectives

This general purpose of this study is to examine the influence of dietary intake on physical performance of secondary schools students. Specifically, the objectives are to:

i.  Find out whether healthy dietary pattern have any effect on physical performance of students

ii.  Analyse how various factors could influence students’ unhealthy dietary pattern and how they affect their poor dietary intake

iii.  Investigate how students’ poor food choices affect poor dietary intake

iv.  Examine the impact of students’ poor dietary intake on their poor physical performance

 1.4 Research Questions

The study seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. Does healthy dietary pattern have any effect on physical performance of students?
  2. Would factors influencing unhealthy dietary pattern have any effect on students’ poor dietary intake?
  3. Do students’ poor food choices affect poor dietary intake?
  4. Would students’ poor dietary intake have any impact on effect poor physical performance

1.5 Research Hypotheses

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1.6 Scope of the Study 

This study covers the influence of dietary intake on physical performance of secondary schools students. The study is limited to students at secondary school level who are between 12 –18  years of age. The study  the  population sample  will be drawn  from  students  that are living with their parents, in order to reflect home determinants of dietary intake. The  study  did  not  attempt  to  indicate  the  nutrient  intake  of  all  students  in the state as the topic suggest, but only sample of students the selected schools.

1.7  Significance of the Study

This study will aid our knowledge about dietary intake of students in secondary schools. It will also show why there is need for the parents to develop effective dietary programs for their wards

This study will bring about understanding with regard to what problems students face in their physical performance at school. This will then allow the development of improved strategies of help or intervention either by the school or the individuals.

Lastly, it will serve as a contribution to knowledge in the subject area. In  this  regard,  it  will  be  useful  for  other  researchers  who might want to carry out research in related areas.

1.8  Limitations of the Study

 Apart  from  time  frame  and  shortage  of  finance,  the  major  limitation to  this  research  is  the  inability  of  the  researcher  to  cover  the  whole public households in Nigeria metropolis as the title suggest.


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