South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Nutrition-related cancer prevention knowledge of undergraduate students at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Oluyemisi Folake Folasire, Ayorinde Mobolanle Folasire, Samuel Chikezie


Objective: This study assessed the nutrition-related cancer prevention knowledge and dietary pattern of undergraduate students.

Design: A cross-sectional study design was employed.

Setting: The University of Ibadan campus, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria.

Participants: A systematic random sampling of 367 undergraduate students was done. Method: A pretested self-administered questionnaire assessed the nutrition-related cancer prevention knowledge of the participants based on WCRF/AICR guidelines. A food frequency questionnaire was used to evaluate the dietary pattern. Weight, height, waist and hip circumferences, body mass index and waist:hip ratio were measured and computed based on standard procedures.

Results: Less than half (49%) had good nutrition-related knowledge of cancer prevention. About 30.0–40.0% frequently consumed legumes/nuts, vegetables and fruits respectively. About 75.0% frequently consumed processed cereals and grains (white rice, white bread and noodles). Above 20.0% were overweight, while 3.8% were obese. Less than 75.0% had low risk of abdominal obesity while 25.5% had high risk of abdominal obesity. Nutrition knowledge of cancer prevention was associated with the frequency of consumption of processed cereals and grains (χ2 = 13.724; p= 0.000), legumes/nuts (χ2 = 17.268; p = 0.000), meat (χ2= 22.972; p = 0.000), fish χ2 = 23.017; p = 0.000), pastry snacks (χ2 = 36.159; p = 0.000) and sugary drinks (χ2= 6.432; p = 0.011). There was no significant difference in knowledge of cancer prevention and the frequency of consumption of roots and tubers, milk, vegetables, and fruits. A higher risk of abdominal obesity was associated with infrequent consumption of legumes/ nuts (χ2= 7.001, p = 0.008) in the males, and with vegetables (χ2= 6.771, p = 0.009) and fruits (χ2= 4.205, p = 0.040) intakes in the females.

Conclusion: Nutrition-related knowledge of cancer prevention was low, and the respondents also had a poor dietary pattern. The high risk of abdominal obesity may be a pointer to the larger young adult population, emphasising a need for targeted intervention.

Keywords: adolescents and young adult health, cancer prevention, nutrition knowledge
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