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Dietary habits and nutritional status of medical school students: the case of three state universities in Cameroon

Journal article
Authors F. Bede
Samuel Nambile Cumber
N. C. Nkfusai
M. A. Venyuy
Y. P. Ijang
E. N. Wepngong
A. T. N. Kien
Published in Pan African Medical Journal
Volume 35
Pages 10
ISSN 1937-8688
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 10
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.11604/pamj.2020.35.15...
Keywords University students, medical students, weight, height, nutritional, status, body mass index, Cameroon, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Abstract

Introduction: malnutrition is a major risk factor of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and therefore the importance of good dietary practices and balanced diet cannot be overemphasized. University students tend to have poor eating practices which is related to nutritional status. The objective of our study was to assess the dietary practices of medical students, determine the prevalence of malnutrition among medical students and factors associated with malnutrition. Methods: we carried out a cross-sectional study from December 2013 to March 2014 involving 203 consenting students in the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Yaounde I, Faculties of Health Sciences of the Universities of Bamenda and Buea. A three-part questionnaire (socio-demographic profile, eating practices, and anthropometric parameters). Data was analysed using SPSS 18.0. Frequencies and percentages were determined for categorical variables. Means and standard deviations (mean +/- SD) were calculated for continuous variables. Fischer's exact test was used to compare the categorical variables. Statistical significance was set at p <= 0.05. Results: males constituted 44.3% of respondents. The mean age was 20.8 +/- 1.6yrs. Most students had a monthly allowance of less than 20 000frs (34 USD) and 59.1% lived alone. Most students (49.8%) reported taking two meals a day with breakfast being the most skipped meal while supper was the meal most consumed by students. Snacking was common among these students as 40.8% admitted consuming snacks daily. Daily intake of milk, fruits, vegetable and meat were low (6.2%, 4.3%, 20.0% and 21.3% respectively). The BMI status of students was associated with gender (p=0.026). Conclusion: our findings showed a high prevalence of malnutrition of 29.4% based on BMI (underweight 4.9%, overweight 21.6% and obesity 3.0%) among second year medical students of these three state universities. Irregular meals, meal skipping, low fruit, vegetable and milk consumption, high candy, fried foods and alcohol intakes were found to be poor eating practices frequent among these students. Our findings therefore suggest the need for coordinated efforts to promote healthy eating habits among medical students in general and female medical students in particular (and by extension youths in general) as a means of curbing malnutrition among youths.

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