Mal J Nutr 21(1): 15 - 23, 2015

Contribution of Snacks to Energy and Nutrient Intake of Undergraduates in a Nigerian University
Ukegbu PO*, Uwaegbute AC & Usonka VA

ABSTRACT

Introduction: The caloric contribution from snacks is a growing public health concern. University students tend to depend on snacks rather than consuming foods of high nutritional value. This study was aimed at assessing contribution of snacks to nutrient intake of undergraduates.
Methods: A validated questionnaire was distributed to 200 purposively selected undergraduates (106 males and 94 females), aged between 16 and 25 years, of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike Abia State, Nigeria. The survey included questions regarding personal characteristics and dietary habits. Nutritional status was assessed by anthropometry. Dietary intake was by 24-hour recall for two consecutive days including a weekend day. Descriptive statistics and student test were performed using SPSS version 16.
Results: The commonly consumed snacks were pastries (35%), biscuits (32.5%) and cakes (16.5%), while carbonated (69%) and malt (23%) drinks were their favourite. Many of them skipped meals especially breakfast (41.5%) mainly due to lack of time (34.0%). Males had a significantly higher energy intake (2819.0kcal) than females (2051.0kcal) (p<0.05). Snacks contributed 85.7% and 87.7%, 41.8% and 41.7%, and 55.9% and 50.6% to energy, protein and fat intake of males and females respectively. In terms of iron, calcium and vitamin C intakes, snacks contributed 55.9% and 58.3%, 27.4% and 40.0% and 61.5% and 70.4% for males and females, respectively. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was 29.5% and 4.0% for males and females, respectively.
Conclusion: Energy contribution from snacks represented a large percentage of total calorie intake of the students. Nutritional education should be provided to enable students make healthy food choices.

Keywords: Nutrient intake, nutritional status, snacks, university undergraduates

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