Association Of Nutrition Knowledge And Attitude With Dietary Practices And Nutritional Status Of Female Undergraduate Students Attending University Colleges Within Nairobi Metropolis
Good nutrition is important in promoting health and is dependent on quality of food eaten. Food choices are determined by many factors among the most important being nutrition knowledge and attitude towards nutrition. University female undergraduate students are at an important stage of their reproductive age and therefore good nutrition is desired for them especially to ensure healthy birth outcome. This study was therefore designed to assess nutritional knowledge and attitude, their associations on dietary practices and nutrition status of the female students in university colleges within the Nairobi Metropolis. A semi-structured and previously pretested questionnaire was used to interview 384 female undergraduate students from three university colleges. The information collected included socio- demographic characteristic, nutrition knowledge, nutrition attitude, dietary practices and nutrition status. The data was analyzed using SPSS software package with the P value for statistical significance being set at <0.05. Pearson‟s Chi Square was used to test significance and associations between categorical variables. One way Anova was used between categorical and continous variables while Mann Whitney U test and Bivariate correlation was used between continuous variables. The results showed that female undergraduate students had average level of nutritional knowledge (54.1%) and exhibited positive attitude towards nutrition with average score of 47.1 out of a possible highest score of 60. The level of knowledge was significantly higher in Science students than Social Science students (p=0.000) and majority of the students (57.9%) identified school as the main source of nutrition information. On a 100 score scale the students mean on level of knowledge in macronutrients (56.3%) is higher than in micro nutrients knowledge (45.7%). The level of knowledge in both macro- nutrients (p= 0.004) and micro-nutrients (p= 0.001) is significantly higher in Science students than HSS students . Most of the students (71.6%) exhibited normal nutritional status but prevalence of overweight and obesity was significantly higher in Social Science students compared to Science students (p=0.002). Generally, students exhibited non optimal dietary practices. The average number of meals consumed in a day was three which is far below the recommended 5-6 meals inclusive of snacks. Fast food eateries (34.2%) and high sugar and highly refined cereal snacking products (41%) were most preferred by the students. The daily consumption of fruits (48.2%) and vegetables (44.1%) was low. Further findings showed that there was no significant association between students nutrition knowledge and nutrition status (r= -0.032, p= 0.549) as well as between attitude of students and nutrition status (r=0.03, p=0.566). The study concluded that the students possessed average nutrition knowledge, positive attitude towards nutrition and normal nutritional status but had non-optimal dietary practices.