An investigation into energy balance and macronutrient intakes of university students

Ellis, J. and Costa, R. and Amirabdollahian, F. (2012) An investigation into energy balance and macronutrient intakes of university students. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71 (OCE2). ISSN 0029-6651

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Previous studies have demonstrated that university students often consume unhealthy snacks and convenience fast foods(1). A swift decline
in physical activity is also reported among them(2), overall supporting the notion that university students are susceptible to unhealthy
dietary practices and positive energy balance(3). The purpose of this study was to investigate the state of energy balance of university
students via comparing their current intake versus the estimate of the energy requirement for each participant.
The participants (n = 319) aged 18–30 from two UK universities were interviewed using a validated questionnaire. The anthropometric
measures such as weight and height were also collected and used for calculations of energy requirement. The energy requirement was
estimated based on calculations of basal metabolic rate (BMR) and physical activity level (PAL) in line with the most recent recommendations
of Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition(4). Energy intake was measured via a 24-hour diet recall validated by a 4-day
weighted record in a subsample of the population (n = 54). Normal distribution was investigated using the Shapiro-Wilk test of normality
and because the main variables were not normally distributed (P<0.05), energy intake and requirement were compared using the nonparametric
Wilcoxon Rank Test. Statistical analysis were conducted using SPSS 19 and statistical significance was set at 0.05.
The median energy intake was significantly lower than the median energy expenditure (8289.7 kJ Vs. 9941.2 kJ, P<0.05). This finding
was consistent between both males and females. For males, the median contribution of macronutrient to energy intake was 16.6%, 51.2%
and 31% for protein, carbohydrate and fat, respectively. For females’ median contribution to energy intake was 15%, 54.6% and 29% for
protein, carbohydrate and fat, respectively. The detail of energy intake and requirement as well contribution of macronutrient intake to
energy intake for males and females are demonstrated in Table 1.

Energy intake was significantly lower than energy expenditure in university students in contrast to previous studies demonstrating that
university students are potentially susceptible to positive energy balance. University students may benefit from reducing their sugar and
saturated fat intake and increasing their complex carbohydrate and unsaturated fat intake.

Item Type: Article
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Farzad Amirabdollahian
Date Deposited: 25 May 2016 13:51
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2017 14:57

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