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Obesity and Eating Habits among University Students in Alexandria, Egypt: A Cross Sectional Study

1Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Allied Medical Sciences, Pharos University, Alexandria, Egypt

2Medical Research Institute, University of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt


World Journal of Nutrition and Health. 2017, Vol. 5 No. 3, 62-68
DOI: 10.12691/jnh-5-3-1
Copyright © 2017 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Doaa M Genena, Amany A Salama. Obesity and Eating Habits among University Students in Alexandria, Egypt: A Cross Sectional Study. World Journal of Nutrition and Health. 2017; 5(3):62-68. doi: 10.12691/jnh-5-3-1.

Correspondence to: Doaa  M Genena, Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Allied Medical Sciences, Pharos University, Alexandria, Egypt. Email: doaa.genena@alexu.edu.eg

Abstract

The prevalence of obesity in Egypt among young adults is high, particularly among females. Eating habits display general trends over time, reflecting sociocultural trends in food availability and nutritional knowledge and goals; lifestyle changes toward unhealthy dietary patterns such as high fast food consumption are becoming trendy among young adults. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity in a sample of students from the University of Pharos, Alexandria, Egypt (PUA) and to examine their eating habits. A cross-sectional survey of 398 university students (males and females) aged 18-26 years, who were chosen randomly from Pharos University campus during the spring semester 2016-2017. Students were asked to fill out a self-reported questionnaire that included questions on their eating, drinking and smoking habits, their weight, and height. Body mass index (BMI) was used to assess students' weight status. The results showed that 28.9% of the students were overweight, 11.8 % were obese, while (55.8%) were of normal weight (49.6% of males compared to 59.1% of females), and 3.5% were underweight. Eating habits of the students showed that the majority (80%) was taking meals irregularly. Almost half of students (45.7%) reported eating two meals per day (44.4% of females as compared to 48.2% males). About 57.6% of female students reported eating breakfast daily or three to four times per week compared to 55.3% male students. Two third of the student were taking snacks daily or three to four times per week (68.1% female vs. 71.6% males, with a statistically significant difference between males and females (p=0.034). Male students tend to eat more fruits daily as compared to females (39.7% vs. 36.2% respectively). Smoking was not common among students. The study concluded that obesity and overweight were prevalent among PUA college students, irregular and infrequent meals together with low vegetables intake and frequent snaking were the most common unhealthy eating habits of the participants. In terms of eating patterns, significant differences were observed between the two genders with respect to frequent snacking by males.

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