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Association of body mass index with dietary habits among university students

Author: 
Hafiz Saleem Faisal Shahzad, Sadia Ahmad, Misbah Sarwar, Faiz Rasul, Mariam Azeem and Hina Latif
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Background: Body mass index (BMI) is a convenient and simple way of assessing obesity as obesity has a very negative impact on human health in the form of physical and mental health issues and mortality risk. Studying obesity among university students is really important as they are newly exposed to open society after passing school and have multiple dietary options. Their dietary habits can be controlled at early stage and thus multiple diseases’ risk can be prevented. Punjab University has multidisciplinary students and purpose of study was to assess their demographics and dietary habits. Objective: To determine association between dietary habits and body mass index among university students. Methodology: A cross sectional study was conducted among students of the University of the Punjab, Pakistan. The study was approved by IRB of Department of Social and Cultural Sciences. After informed consent, a self-structured questionnaire was used to collect demographic data and dietary habits. Body weight and height was recorded and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. BMI 18.5-24.9kg/m2 was defined as normal, <18.5kg/m2 as underweight, and 25-29.9kg/m2 as overweight. Appropriate statistical tests were used for analysis. Results: Among 200 participants 120 students were having normal BMI, 30 under-weight and 50 overweight. Factors such as low income, skipping meals, taking daily tea, less use of milk, eggs and meat were associated with low BMI. On the other hand, using snacks and junk foods, soft drinks, rice, and paratha had significant association with high BMI. When Chi square test was applied, statistical significant results were age(p 0.000), gender(p 0.004), weight(p 0.000), height(p 0.000), monthly family income (p 0.000), drinking milk(p 0.008), skipping lunch(p 0.000), eating fruits(p 0.006), rice(p 0.000), meat(p 0.000), eggs(p 0.002), butter(p 0.019), bread(p 0.000), lassi(p 0.000), vegetables(p 0.000), snacks(p 0.000), milk shake(p 0.000), soft drinks(p 0.000), fries(p 0.000) and type of snack used(p 0.000). Conclusion: More than 1/3rd university students were having abnormal BMI. This study augments the need of creating awareness in this specific group regarding beneficial effects of healthy nutritional values and importance of normal BMI.

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