BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Most of the fundamental health problems afflicting the contemporary world are cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes and obesity; these being prime examples of non-communicable diseases. Some of the well recognized steps to take to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease are to acquire appropriate dietary habits and a sufficient level of physical exercise. Rather than an increase in the consumption of animal products and low intake of fruits and vegetables referred to as ‘Western diet’, the healthy ‘Mediterranean diet’ that involves high intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, cereal products, small quantities of animal derived foods and low amounts of unsaturated fatty acids (especially the trans types), cholesterol, sugar, sweets and salt is prescribed as an appropriate dietary model (Wirginia, Daniela, Grzegorz, malgorzata, Benta, 2013). Changes in eating habits, lack of physical activity and sedentary life have significantly contributed to the increase of various diseases, mainly diabetes mellitus, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates for 2008, over 50% of both men and women in the WHO European region were overweight, and roughly 23% of women and 20% of men were obese. Based on the latest estimates in European Union countries, overweight affects 30 – 70% and obesity affects 10 – 30% of adults (Eleni, Eugeni, Maria, Loannis, Evangelos, Kyritsi, 2014). It has been perceived that developing countries like India are encountering dual burden of under-nutrition and overnutrition (Chhabra, Grover, Agrawal, Kannan, 2006). Obesity itself leads to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, an increase in blood cholesterol and diabetes (Amamoto, Dozono, Toyama, 2004). The main goal of nutrition plans is to obtain the appropriate and necessary nutrition to remain healthy, to be physically prepared and to lead a healthy life. For this reason, to promote the health level of a society, the attitudes of its people, must be taken into account. Given that one of the main goals of universities is to broaden the knowledge of the people in a society, the enhancement of the nutrition attitudes, knowledge and practices of its students is of high importance, as this will subsequently lead to a more food conscious society and more healthy people. Some studies have shown that most students are not familiar with the healthy foods needed for their body` in different conditions (Cotugna, Connie, Vickery & Sheldon, 2005). Ruka’s research showed that the majority of students (83.6%) ate three meals during the day regularly and no difference was found between men and women (Ruka, Toyama, Anamoto, Lio & Shinfuku, 2005). O’Dea showed that 85% of men and 87% of women, who are overweight, decide to go on a diet to lose weight; also13% of men and 20% of women refuse to eat breakfast. He also reported that students do not have the necessary information and training regarding weight control, nutrition needs and diets (O’Dea & Abraham, 2001). The obesity epidemic in America continues to grow. In order to obtain data concerning the overall health of both children and adults in the United States (US) the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts an annual survey known as The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey is unique in that it combines interviews and physical examinations. According to the NHANES 2011- 2012 survey, the proportion of the obese US adults was 35.1% and those considered to be extremely obese was 6.4% ( Fryar, Carroll & Ogden, 2014). It was also found that an estimated 33.9% of adults were considered to be overweight. Furthermore, the data from the NHANES 2011-2012 survey indicated that an estimated 16.9% of children and adolescents age 2-19 are obese, and another 14.9% are overweight. One researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (2000) classifies the ages of 18-25 as “emerging adulthood”. He describes this age demographic as a time where young people transition from adolescence to adulthood and begin developing views and behaviors, which will carry into adulthood. During this time, the development of self-identity, changing support systems, and the shifting of interpersonal influences occur and set this life stage apart from adolescence and adulthood (Nelson, Story, Larson, Neumark-Sztainer & Lytle, 2008). Nelson et al. shared Dr. Arnnet’s assessment of this particular population, suggesting that the college years have often been considered a time of “optimal health and well-being”. However, there appears to be a limited amount of data that is collected about this population. According to the CDC, obesity levels were lowest among college graduates, 22.1% for men and 17.9% for females (Galuska, Gillespie, Kuester, Mokdad, Cogswell & Philip, 2008). It was also found that for men, those who attended some college had the highest percentage of obesity, at 29.5%. However, this does not give one a snap shot of the current population of those attending college. Research on this extremely diverse population is needed and will ultimately allow for colleges and universities to develop programs to combat the often referred to as “freshman fifteen” weight gain, and educate this population about healthy eating and exercise patterns. Specific knowledge gained about this population will allow for the tailoring of health education programs to the specific problem areas identified by college students.
In conclusion, taking into consideration this background, special attention should be paid to university students including nursing students, as a group particularly prone to poor dietary habits.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Poor nutrition and obesity are among the most important health issues facing society today, not only in terms of health, but also health care expenses (Goel, 2006; Rashad & Grossman, 2004). There are a variety of predictors of obesity including genetics, physical activity, and food consumption (Goel, 2006). There are other outcomes of food choice and nutrition that also have an independent effect on health including some types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (Nicklas, Baranowski, Baranowski, Cullen, Rittenberry, & Olvera, 2001). For these reasons, food selection is an important consumer behavior with many long-term consequences to the individual in the form of health and longevity and to society in the form of health costs. Food selection also goes a long way to determine the dietary habits developed by most college students. Some research has shown that the most important factors predicting food selection among adults are: taste, cost, nutrition, convenience, pleasure, and weight control, in that order (Glanz, Basil, Maibach, Goldberg, & Snyder, 1998). Many studies have shown that people often establish these tastes and habits while they are relatively young (Birch, 1999). Evidence suggests early establishment of habits and preferences occurs for a variety of behaviors including media use (Basil, 1990) and music listening (Holbrook & Schindler, 1994), as well as food choice (Birch, 1999). Therefore it is advisable to begin stablishing good eating habits when people are as young as possible. Importantly, however, for the very young, many food decisions are controlled by parents and preschools (Nicklas et al., 2001). Therefore, food choice for the youngest age groups may be constrained by a number of factors. An especially important time of life for food choice is when people step out independently for the first time and begin to make all of their own food decisions.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To determine the types of food consumed by nursing students in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
- To estimate the eating pattern amongst nursing students in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
- To identify abnormal eating habit among the nursing students
- To determine the food preference of Nursing students.
- What are the types of food consumed by nursing students in Ambrose Alli University?
- How often do the nursing students eat per day ?
- Which type of food do students eat most?
- Is there any abnormal eating habit among nursing students?
H0: The recent dietary habits of nursing students do not contribute to the improvement of their health.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study will be of immense benefit to the general public and all health workers, especially the nurses. It would contribute effectively towards enhancing better dietary habits. It will also reduce to the barest minimum, diseases and risks associated with inappropriate dietary habit.
SCOPE OF STUDY
The study is delimited to the nursing students in the Department of Nursing sciences, College of medical sciences Ambrose Alli University.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Difficulty in getting nursing students to readily answer research questions due to their busy schedule and reluctance.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Diet: This is a person’s regularly consumed food and drink.
Dietary: A regulated daily food allowance.
Eating habit: This is the way a person or group eats, considered in terms of what types of food are eaten, in what quantities and when.
Malnutrition: A term used to refer to any condition in which the body does not receive enough nutrients for proper functioning.
Undernutrition: Inadequate nutrition resulting from lack of food or failure of the body to absorb or assimilate nutrients properly.