Relationship between dietary habits and nutritional status among adolescents in Abuja municipal area council of Nigeria
Background: Dietary intake assessment is essential to understanding the nutritional status. Healthy eating pattern promotes optimal health, growth and intellectual development and prevents diseases, while poor dietary eating choices may cause malnutrition.
Aims: To determine the dietary eating patterns and nutritional status among adolescents in secondary schools within Abuja Municipal area council (AMAC).
Subjects and Methods: crosssectional among adolescents, 10 – 19years in secondary schools within AMAC, Nigeria. Using a multistage stratified sampling technique, four urban and four rural schools, 1550 students, were enrolled. Subject’s bio data, dietary habits and knowledge of nutrition and general physical examination were obtained. Dietary assessment included intake of main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), skipping meals; methods used to control weight in the previous 30days; knowledge and preference of a balanced diet and food choices. Subject’s height and weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) were determined using the 2007 WHO charts. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 17 statistical package and p value less than 0.05 was significant.
Results: 1550 students were recruited, males 688 (44.4%) and females 862 (55.6%); mean age 14.43±1.94 years. Of the 780 urban adolescents, 502 (64.4%) were of upper class and 68 (8.7%) lower class; and of the 770 (49.7%) rural, 206 (26.8%) and 232 (30.1%) belong to upper and lower class respectively, p=.000. Stunting 174(11.2%) and overweight 195(12.6%) were the major forms of malnutrition recorded. Food preferences was based mainly on good taste in 546 (35.2%), balanced diet 530 (34.2%); and 539 (34.8%) had good nutritional knowledge of a balanced diet. Five hundred and forty six (35.2%) admitted to taking carbonated drinks within the previous 7days and 147 (9.5%) missed breakfast, lunch and supper as single meal. Breakfast only was skipped by 71(4.6%) while 160 (10.3%) took lunch outside the home. The methods used to control weight were eating less food or fats, fasting, use of diet pills, inducing vomiting/use of laxatives. Skipping meals and taking meals outside the home was significant for the sex, (p value <0.05), school setting (p value .000) and the infrequent intake of fruits/ vegetables (p value .025). Those that skipped meals showed significant stunting (p value .009), while those who took fruits and vegetables infrequently had significant wasting (p value .049).
Conclusion: poor dietary habits were identified among the adolescent. Malnutrition especially stunting and wasting was identified among those that skipped meals and took little fruits and vegetables.
Key words: dietary habits, adolescent, urban, rural, prevalence, nutritional status, carbonated drinks.