Energy and Nutrient Intake and Food Diets among Iranian University Students
The increased prevalence of overweight in Iranian students has stimulated interest in their lifestyle behaviours. The purpose of this research was to investigate dietary intake and food behaviours of Iranian students. Males and females from grades 20 to 24 were recruited from a stratified random selection of university from Iran. Food consumption of 40 male students in Ramin University, Iran was recorded for 7 days. Foods most frequently consumed were selected for analysis of nutrients content. The mean daily intakes of energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat among the students are 1769 kcal, 56, 258 and 57 g, respectively. This diet contributed 17.97 mg Fe, 12.37 mg Ca and 14.4 mg P day-1 which were lower than the WHO, FAO, Health and Welfare Canada Nutrition Recommendation, USA and Iranian RDAs. The main sources of these minerals in the students diet were rice, rice products, meat and animal products. This study indicated concern regarding the low intake of the essential vitamins and minerals on long term basis among the students. It is proposed that the students should eat fruits, vegetables and dairy products in their diets.
Received: February 14, 2012;
Accepted: March 21, 2012;
Published: May 11, 2012
There has been a remarkable expansion in the knowledge of the significance
of minerals and vitamins and the effect of its absence on human health. Reilly
(1985) reported that the metal content of food was generally related to
metal in immediate contact with food that is the cooking utensils and the domestic
water supply. Proper nutrition is important in improving the community health
in general and of the risk groups in particular. Balance nutrition can protect
against many diseases/disorders resulting from nutrient deficiencies or excess
(WHO, 1983). The consumption of more sugar and fat (particularly
saturated fat) is associated with the development of diabetes (Jenkins
et al., 1978) and heart diseases, respectively (Gurr,
1984). The minerals and vitamins deficiencies result in many biochemical
and physiological defects. It is just possible that minerals and vitamins may
have role in the utilization of the major nutrients (protein, carbohydrates
and fats). The knowledge of the nutritional status of a community is important
for proper planning in the health sector. Nutritional status of an individuals
is determined by anthropometric measurements, comparison of nutrient intakes
with reference values or by biochemical investigations of nutrients related
parameters. The anthropometric measurements and comparison of nutrient intakes
with reference values are easy and noninvasive, economical and sufficiently
reliable method for the determination of nutritional status (McMahan
and Bistrain, 1991). According to some recommendation, the combination of
the macro-nutrient should be in such a way that protein, carbohydrate and fat
provide 15, 55 and 30% energy, respectively of the total body required energy
(Health and Welfare Canada, 1990). Food provides not
only essential nutrients needed for life but also other bioactive compounds
for health promotion and disease prevention (Liu, 2003).
Fruits and vegetables are essential part of balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables
contribute a healthy diet. People are becoming obese by using empty caloric
foods. By this study the researchers wanted to find out the daily intake of
fruits and vegetables in the universities students. By sharing the information
we can promote the good eating habits and healthy life style. The major objective
of this study was to find out the students balanced diet depends upon seven
food groups. Each and every food groups have its own importance and recommended
servings. By this study we informed the servings are required of fruits and
vegetables in daily diet. Eating 3-5 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables
a day was important because deeply hued fruits and vegetables provide the wide
range of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals which body needs to maintain
good health (Khalid et al., 2011). Non-communicable
diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders have been traditionally
associated with developed countries. However, in recent decades the prevalence
of these diseases and their antecedent risk factors has rapidly increased in
developing countries. These changes are caused to a large extent by dietary
changes in relation to socio-economic and living environmental conditions (Afoakwah
and Owusu, 2011).
The research done by Aktas et al. (2009), revealed
that there is significant different between the educational level of the university
graduated students and the criteria they concern while purchasing like package,
brand, contents, production date, expiry date, nutritional value and healthfulness.
However, this study shows that expiry date was the higher factors when buying
food product among students followed by taste, ingredient, price, nutrient content
and lastly was packaging (21.6%). This may because of the students more aware
about the safety of the food compared to taste and price which may not healthy
and costly. It can see that nutrient content of the food not the higher factors
But according to Onay et al. (2011) stated that
those customers with lower educational levels were found to display more conscious
consumer attitudes during food purchasing decision.
But another research done by Ahmadi et al. (2009),
Al-Numair (2004) and Ozcelik et
al. (2007) found that physicians do not have enough knowledge about
nutrition and thus they need more education in nutrition to facilitate them
during using nutritional information.
Hidayah and Syahrul Bariah (2011) showed higher prevalence
on the risk of developing eating disorder and very concern about their physical
appearance, body figure and it will reflects how they control with food intake
and continuously affects their eating habits.
The present study was designed to assess the nutritional status of the students
of Ramin University in Iran and comparing nutrients contents in diet with the
acceptable daily intake (ADI) established by world standard diets.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Subjects: This study involved 40 Iranian male students aged between 20-24 years staying in University where there were cooking facilities. Hence all these students took most of their meals in the cafeteria.
Methods: The students were given a briefing on the objectives of the study. They were requested to keep a one week dietary intake record that is recording all foods consumed for that duration.
|| Food samples selected for analysis
Sincerity and accuracy of keeping records was stressed. The subjects were asked
to estimate the foods they eat based on household measures, serving size and
cost of the food. The weight of food estimated was validated by purchasing the
foods from the same place the subjects bought their foods and actually weighing
them. From the dietary record, intake of major nutrients such as energy, protein,
carbohydrate and fat were calculated based on Nutrient Composition of Iranian
Foods (Tee et al., 1988). Frequency of intake
were listed and samples were purchased for minerals analysis based on foods
consumed more than three times per week. Table 1 lists the
24 food samples selected for analysis. The food samples were not duplicate diets
consumed by the students. However these foods were served at the cafeteria daily
by the same contractor. These were foods available to the student groups for
as long as they are staying at the dormitory. Moreover, the one week food intake
record provides accurate enough information on the types of foods selected and
consumed daily. A few food samples were purchased at a time based on what was
available in the cafeteria. Each food samples were bought on three separate
occasions. Precautions were taken to avoid environmental contamination. A duplicate
5 g homogenized samples of each food were dried at 100°C to constant weight.
The dried samples were then ashed in porcelain crucibles at 525 °C in a
muffle furnace for 24 h or until a white ash was obtained. The ash was dissolved
in concentrated HCl and analyzed using atomic absorption spectrophotometer Pye
Unicom Model 5P9 (AOAC, 1984). The results were used to
calculate trace element intake from daily diets selected by the students instead
of using results from the nutrient composition of Iranian foods which do not
contain values for Zn, Ca and P.
Statistical analysis: Results are presented as Mean±SD and range. Contribution of minerals from different sources is given as percentage of total daily intake.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The mean daily intake of major nutrients and percentage contribution of protein,
fat and carbohydrate to energy intake are shown in Table 2.
Energy intake among the students ranges from (860-2180 kcal) with a mean of
(1769 kcal). Percentage of students with intake lower than RDA for energy is
90% and protein is 2%. Contribution of protein, fat and carbohydrate to energy
is 15, 27 and 58%, respectively. Intakes of Fe, P and Ca from the daily diet
are presented in Table 3. Mean intake of Fe, Ca and P are
lower than RDA. Rice, rice dishes, noodles, fish and meat are the main source
of these minerals (Table 4).
|| Mean daily intake of major nutrients among the students (n
|| Intake of iron, calcium and phosphorus in from diet
|*RDA USA (National research council (NRC),
|| Main sources of iron in the student diet
About 28%, of daily intake of Fe comes from rice and noodles, meat and sea
The mean daily energy intake of the 40 male students studied was lower than
RDA. The values range from 860-2180 kcal with 90% of the subjects taking energy
below RDA (Table 2). Other studies in Iran have reported similar
findings (Zawiah et al., 1990). The ratio of
15, 27, 58% contribution to energy from protein, fat and carbohydrate, respectively
is in accordance with the healthy diet guidelines. Several studies have shown
protein intake to be adequate or higher than recommended. In the present study
only two percent of the subjects showed protein Intake lower than RDA. This
study did not differentiate contribution of protein intake from animal and plant
sources. Intake of Ca were lower than the RDA for both trace minerals (Table
3). Fe intake showed a wide range of 12-31 mg day-1 with a mean
of 17.97 mg day-1. Previous study on students reported a lower average
intake of 15.5±2.5 mg day-1 (Zawiah et
al., 1990). Other studies have reported values between 13.7 -18.7 mg
day-1 in pregnant women and diabetic patients (Arshad,
1984; Zawiah et al., 1990; Norimah
and Abu Bakar, 1993). Meanwhile, mean intake for Ca is lower than the range
provided for RDA. From the results obtained the amount of P from the diet is
not acceptable from the nutritional point of view. A study on trace elements
in total diets in The Netherlands reported Fe and Ca to be on the low side of
the recommendation. In the case of Fe, the amount consumed can be considered
adequate when compared to the USA recommended intake (NRC,
1989). The highest percentage of Fe intake were provided by rice and noodles
dishes followed by fish and meat dishes despite having higher content of Fe
(Table 4). This is due to the larger amounts of rice and noodles
being consumed as compared to the meat or fish dishes. For instance up to 300
g of rice was consumed per day. It was reported that the main source of Fe in
the UK diet was cereal and meat which provide 4.4 mg person-1 day-1
or 39% of the daily intake and 2.7 mg person-1day-1, respectively
(Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 1980). With
reference to the present study with a mean protein intake of 56 g, it can be
seen that Zn status in the students maybe low using protein evidence of 1 mg
Zn for 10 g protein in diet, assuming 1/2 - 2/3 protein comes from animal source.
In conclusion, the energy intakes among male students are lower than recommended. Protein in the diets however exceed the recommendation and the percentage contribution of energy from protein, fat and carbohydrate is desirable. However intake of essential trace elements such as Fe and Ca from the selected diets should be of concern if similar diet selection is to be practiced over a long period. One recommendation is to educate the students to enable them to make a wiser selection of foods available in the cafeteria.
The author thanks Behbahan University for enabling this project to be carried out and for assistance in the trace element analysis to all the students involved we appreciate their participation.
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