Mal J Nutr 20(3): 327 - 337, 2014

Assessment of Nutrition Knowledge of a University Community in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Attlee A, Abu-Qiyas S & Obaid RS

ABSTRACT

Introduction: The aim of the present study was to assess the nutrition knowledge of the University of Sharjah community.
Methods: A 50-item self-administered nutrition knowledge questionnaire validated for adults in UK was adapted to assess knowledge on current dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, everyday food choices and diet-disease relationships. A cut-off score of 70% correct response was used to indicate 'adequate' knowledge level. All faculty, staff and students with UOS website accessibility were included.
Results: The online questionnaire was filled by 265 respondents. The majority were 18-24-year-old students. Most respondents were aware of dietary recommendations but knowledge level was inadequate in terms of starchy foods (47.1%) to be eaten in lesser amounts; consumption of saturated fats (59.5%) to be reduced; and consumption of low fat dairy products (64.8%). Knowledge of common food sources of nutrients was adequate. Knowledge on specific sources of low salt or low fibre foods, cholesterol, healthy and not healthy alternatives to red meat was inadequate. Similarly, application of dietary recommendations in choosing everyday foods depicted inadequate knowledge. Knowledge of diet-disease relationships was also low. Females were significantly better-informed than males, with higher knowledge scores in each section of the questionnaire.
Conclusion: A university community constitutes the informed section of a society. However, inadequate nutrition knowledge in this population reinforces the need for broad spectrum interventions to raise awareness on applying dietary recommendations and diet-disease relationships so as to make an informed choice in selecting everyday foods.

Keywords: Nutrition knowledge, United Arab Emirates, university faculty and students

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