Purpose – Improving the health of children under the age of five is one of the main objectives of
primary healthcare services in most developing countries. The purpose of this paper is to identify the
nutritional status of children under the age of five and its impact on cognitive function.
Design/methodology/approach – The cross-sectional study was carried out in a semi-urban
community in south-western Nigeria. The sample consisted of 220 school children under the age of five.
Anthropometric measurements including weight, height and mid arm circumference were carried out
to determine the nutritional status of the children. Cognitive function of the children was assessed
using a developmental checklist developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and their
performance was graded as good, fair and poor.
Findings – The overall prevalence of malnutrition in this study was low with stunting, underweight and
wasting recording 8.2, 6.8 and 1.8 percent, respectively thereby making stunting the most common
malnutrition indicator in this study. A large proportion of the children (88.6 percent) had good cognitive
performance while 11.4 and 5.5 percent had fair and poor cognitive performance, respectively. Among the
variousmalnutrition indicatorsmeasured in this study, stunting was found to have a statistically significant
association with cognitive development ( p.0.005).Stunted children have multiple functional disadvantages
that persist throughout childhood and poor nutrition almost certainly plays a role. This paper calls for a
need for the Nigerian Government to intervene by ensuring that policies are implemented that will ensure
that health and nutritional needs of preschool children are guaranteed right from conception.