Peculiarities of medical students' nutrition

Lina Skemiene, Rūta Ustinaviciene, Loreta Piesine, Ricardas Radisauskas
Medicina 2007, 43 (2): 145-52

UNLABELLED: The aim of the study was to investigate the peculiarities of medical students' nutrition, to compare the dietary habits between first-year and third-year students, to compare male and female students' nutrition, and to evaluate the tendencies of its change.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: An anonymous survey using a specially designed questionnaire was carried out on 349 first- and third-year students of the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy at Kaunas University of Medicine. Students' factual nutrition was evaluated by the number of meals per day, the time of eating, and the frequency of consumption of food products. The findings of the questionnaire-based study were stored in a database and analyzed using Excel software. Statistical relationships were determined using EPI Info software by applying the nonparametric chi(2) criterion. Statistical significance was determined using Student's criterion.

RESULTS: The nutrition of first- and third-year students is irregular and differs in the time and number of meals. Only 20% of students daily ate 400 g of fruit and vegetables as recommended by the World Health Organization. Medical students, especially males, used excessive amounts of animal fat. Every seventh student consumed too salty food. Medical students consumed insufficient amounts of bread, potatoes, cereals, and other products that constitute the basis of the pyramid of healthy nutrition. Twenty-three percent of males and nearly as many females used alcohol once per week. Nearly one-half of students did not exercise at all, and 9.1% of third-year female and 14.5% of third-year male students were overweight.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of students did not follow the dietary regimen and consumed the majority of food products during the second half of the day. Students' nutrition was not balanced - medical students consumed too much fat, especially those of animal origin. Students consumed insufficient amounts of vegetable fats and fish products, fruit and vegetables, and thus their food may lack soluble dietary fibers and vitamins. First-year and third-year female students used vegetable oils more frequently, used more vegetables, and complied with dietary regimen more often than male students. The nutrition of first- and third-year students does not differ statistically significantly. Alternative types of nutrition (vegetarian nutrition and various diets) are not popular among medical students.

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