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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 7 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2009

NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN SOUTH-EASTERN STATES OF NIGERIA
Gladys Achinihu
Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri
E-mail: oziomaachinihu@yahoo.com

 

Abstract
To assess the nutritional status of university students in South-Eastern States of Nigeria, a total of 1600 students were randomly selected from four universities in the stratified groups. Nutritional values of subjects’ foods were assessed on the basis of 24-hour dietary recall, anthropometry and weighed food intake. Nutrient content of foods for protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A and C, zinc and energy eaten by students was determined using food composition table and chemical analysis of food. Intake was compared across location using ANOVA at 0.05 level of significance. On dietary recall, university students across the locations ate mainly two sets of meals per day. Breakfast meals were mainly missed, particularly when the students’ financial positions were low. Anthropometry assessments revealed that majority of the students were within the normal BMI range of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2.  Types and weights of foods consumed by university students across the locations were closely related. The few variations observed were in the methods of food preparation and serving. ANOVA result of multiple comparison of energy and nutrient intake scores, show that there was no significant difference in the mean of the paired Universities in energy, protein, calcium, zinc, iron, riboflavin, vitamin C and thiamine intake between students in the University of Port Harcourt and Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

Key words:  Anthropometry; university; nutritional status; nutrient intake


Introduction
University students in every country constitute a large proportion of the total population.  The students who are usually within the age range of 17-25 years, study in various universities across the country. Many students do not know the nutritional values of the foods they eat. Some avoid certain foods because of personal dislike, social and cultural pressure, peer group influence, religion etc. They are unaware of what those items could contribute to the adequacy of their nutrient intake. One of the greatest problems facing the students of today is lack of information on what their bodies really need nutritionally.

It has also been observed that most of the students lack adequate fund or divert their feeding money to other frivolities and so skip some meals. Jargons such as 1-0-1, 0-1-0, 1-0-0, etc are common in the Nigerian university system.  1-0-1 means eating breakfast, skipping lunch and taking dinner. 1-1-0 means taking breakfast and lunch and forfeiting dinner. 0-1-0 means skipping breakfast and dinner and having only lunch, while 1-0-0 means eating breakfast only and forfeiting lunch and dinner. These unhealthy habits can lead to under-nourishment and over-nourishment with the resultant increase in the susceptibility of avoidable diseases.  Today, there are no longer any central feeding facilities for students in their university campuses. The students are forced to take responsibility for their feeding. What they choose affect their nutritional status. The situation calls for an in-depth research for better living and academic performance with regards to university students.

Materials and method
Location: 1600 students (800 males and 800 females) were selected randomly from four universities in the South Eastern States of Nigeria. Information on age, sex, and socio-economic status of every student was obtained via questionnaire.

The 24 hour dietary recall Subjects enumerated all the food consumed in the last 24 hours including the full description of the amount, in regular house hold measures and major places of purchase. The 24 hr dietary recall was

administered on the three separate days during the first semester.

Anthropometry Height measured was done with a height metre. Vertical 2m high rod fixed to the wall with a movable head piece. This was capable of measuring to an accuracy of 0.5cm. The height measurement was done without shoes. Students stood on a wooden base by the scale with feet parallel with heels, buttock and shoulder and part of the head touching the measuring rod. Weighing was done with minimal clothing and no shoes using camry bathroom scale. Reading was taken accurately to the nearest 0.1 kg.

Weighed food intake Weighing was done for three days and a week-end day (Saturday or Sunday). All foods eaten or drinks (e.g. beverages) by students from canteens and cafeteria or bought and consumed as snacks were weighted. Weights of foods consumed were calculated as weight of food and plate minus weight of plate alone minus plate waste or amount not eaten. Samples of such food were moved and frozen for chemical analysis.

Chemical analysis: Analysis for Iron, Calcuim, Vitamins A and C and moisture were conducted using AOAC (1980) procedure. Protein and Zinc were analysed using macro Kjeldahl (1848-1900) and Pearson (1976) respectively. Those for Energy, Thiamin, Riboflavin and Phosphorous

 

were determined using the food composition table (Oguntona and Akinyele 1995).

Statisical analysis: The data thus generated were analyzed using SPSS-11.0 for widows. ANOVA results were conducted at 95% confidence limit (0.05level of significance). 

Results
Dietary recall results
The result of the dietary recall survey in table 1 showed that university students across the locations ate mainly two sets of meals per day. This was particularly so when the students’ financial positions were low. Breakfast meals were mainly missed. When breakfasts were eaten, they were usually tea and bread with milk. Lunch and evening meals were usually similar. The meals mostly consumed by the students across the locations included rice (oryza sativa) either with meat/fish, stew or jollof, boiled beans with stew, boiled yam and stew, jollof spaghetti, indomie pottage, bean pottage (dioscora spp), garri or cassava (manihot esculenta), foo foo with any kind of sauces  such as egusi (melon; citrullus vulgaris), Onugbu, (bitter leaf; vernoma amygdalina), okra (Hibiscus esculentus) and nsala soup (watery soup).

In Unical, vegetable, nsala and egusi soups were eaten.In Uniport , vegetable, nsala and egusi sauces were mainly consumed. Unizik students ate Onugbu (bitter leaf), “oha” (camwood) egusi and vegetable soups, while draw soups (okra) and egusi were mainly consumed at Unimyke.

Table 1:  Summary of 24 hour dietary recall
                                                    

Items                                                                           Universities

                                                              UNIPORT      UNICAL      UNIZIK     UNIMYKE
                                                               M        F          M       F        M     F         M       F
                                                                %       %          %      %        %      %       %      %
                                                               
Boiled rice/stew                                   12.2    10.8      14.7     11.5    15.6   13.5    12.5  10.4
Fish or Meat jollof rice                       11.1    13.9      12.6    12.8    10.4   3.4      12.5   6.9
 Meat/Fish stew with rice and beans    15.5    14.5      14.0    14.1   15.6   15.1   20.8   13.8
Boiled beans with stew                        2.2       2.2        2.8    1.3      2.6     1.7     4.2       0
Tea with bread or biscuit                     2.2       4.3        0.7    3.9      8.7     6.7     9.5    10.4 
Akara or moimoi/pap                          2.2       1.6        1.4    0.6     1.7     7.6      0      3.5
Indomie pottage                                  5.2       7.5         5.5    7.7     0.9    1.7       0         0
Spaghetti pottage                                 5.2       9.7         4.2    7.7     3.5    6.7       4.2    3.5                               
Yam pottage                                        8.8       6.5         9.8   6.4      5.2     6.7      4.2    3.5
Boiled yam/stew                                  7.7       5.4         7.7   7.7      8.7    7.6      4.2      0                              
Bean pottage                                        3.3      2.2         2.8   1.3      8.7    6.7       4.2    3.5
Spaghetti /stew                                     9.4      2.2          2.8   0.6     2.6    1.7       4.2    3.5
Soup/sauce/eba                                    14.4  10.8        12.6  13.5   15.7   15.1     25    13.8

 

Food consumption pattern
The range of food encountered and the mean amount of male students in the four locations are presented in the tables 2 and 3. The types of dishes consumed in the four locations did not vary so much. The few variations observed were in the method of food preparation and serving.  Foods consumed by students were mainly of plant products, such as rice, beans, garri, cassava, yam, plantain, potatoes and bread.

Consumption of food of animal origin such as milk, egg, fish, and meat were optional and depended on the financial position of each student. During lunch or dinner, most of the students ate their meals without fish, egg or meat, as one could hear them tell the cafeterians to serve them “without”.  Foods consumed by the students across the different locations can be classified as follows.
Rice (Oryza atiiva)                                 Cooked with palm oil, tomatoes, onion, spices.                                                          
                                                                  Meat and fish were optional ingredients.
Garri   (Manihot esculanta)                       Roasted  fermented  cassava meal  and cooked                     
                                                                  into a soft dough.
Yam    (Dioscorea spp) pottage               Cooked with palm oil, water, crayfish.          
                                                                  Ingredients such as fish, meat, vegetable etc
                                                                  were optional                                                                   
 Cassaava  (Manihot esculanta)  fufu        Fermented starch cooked into soft dough.
Okra (Hibisus esculentus)    sauce           Sliced okra cooked sauce with water, oil, spices,        
                                                                  meat, fish.  Okra serves as vegetable.         

Nsala soup                                                  The soup made with spices, fresh
                                                                     fish/meat/chicken.  
Okpa bambaara groundnut                       Pudding made with palm oil and spices.  (voendzena susturnma)                  

Moi MoiCowpea      (vigna spp) pudding.  

The range of foods encountered and the mean amount consumed by male and female students in the four locations are presented in tables 2 and 3 respectively.

 

Table 2    Mean weights of some foods consumed by male respondents per meal.

                                                    Uniport              Unical        Unizik              Unimyke
1).Rice and beans/stew                 542.35              555.25       558.15             552.5
2.) Jollof rice                                 355.4               338.6         356.5               358.4
3) Meat and fish                          23                      27.5           21                    20
4)Garri                                           455.8               453                        458.4                453.6
5)Yam pottage                              306.6                308                        306.5               305.3
6) Cassava fufu                             490.6               488.05       485.7               488.8
7) Okra sauce                               175.8                170.2         182.3               160.4
8) Nsala soup                                176.2                       170.2         181.2                   176.4
9) Okpa                                           44.6               43.8           48.6                 46.8
10)Moi moi                                   51.3                  51.8           49.5                 48.0
11) Egusi soup                             172.3                 168.5         156.4               150.3
12) Vegetable sauce                      178                   172                          158                163
13) Olugbu sauce                         168                    165                          172                165
14) Bean pottage                         320.5                  308.0         308.0               310.0

 

 

Table 3    Mean weight of some foods consumed by male respondents per meal.

                                                   Uniport               Unical        Unizik              Unimyke
1).Rice and beans/stew                525                    512                          528.5             523.8
2.) Jollof rice                                 305                  321                          332.5             335.6
3) Meaat and fish                          27.5                  23              21                   20
4)Garri                                           400                  410                         412                 415
5)Yam pottage                              300                   304                         302                 302
6) Cassava fufu                             450                  456                        454                  455
7) Okra sauce                               170                   175                        180                  170
8) Nsala soup                                170                   176.5         178                  175
9) Okpa                                         43.8                 44.6           48.5                 45.8
10)Moi moi                                   51.8                  51.3           49.5                 48.8
11) Egusi soup                             160                    170.5         156.5               150
12) Vegetable sauce                      160                   170.5         156.5               150
13) Olugbu sauce                         168                    165                         172                 165     
14) Beean Pottage                         300                   306.5         305                  308

 


In relation to tables 2 and 3, comparison of weight and food intake between male and female students in each of the selected Universities showed that:

   In Uniport, male student’s intake of rice and beans /stew, jollof rice, garri, yam pottage, cassava fufu, okra soup, nsala soup, okpa, egusi soup, vegetable soup and bean pottage was more or higher than female students’ intake. Female
  1. students intake of meat and fish and moi moi was more or higher than male students’ intake. In take of onugbu soup by male and female students were considerably equal.
  2. In Unical, male students’ intake of rice and beans/stew, jollof rice, meat and fish, garri, yam pottage, cassava fufu,  moi moi, and bean pottage was more or higher  than female students’ intake. Intake of okra soup, nsala soup, egusi soup and vegetable soup was more in female students. Intake of onugbu soup by the male and female students was equal.
  3. In Unizik, male students’ intake of rice and beans /stew, jollof rice, garri, yam pottage, cassava fufu, okra soup, nsala soup, okpa, egusi soup, vegetable soup and bean pottage was more or higher than female students’ intake. On the other hand, female students’ intake of egusi soup was more /higher than male students intake.  The intake of meat and fish, moi moi, and onugbu soup by male and female students was equal.
  4. In Unimyke, male students intake of rice and beans /stew, jollof rice, garri, yam pottage, cassava fufu, okra soup, nsala soup, okpa, egusi soup, vegetable soup and bean pottage was more or higher than female students’ intake. While female student’s intake of okra soup  and moi moi was more or higher than male student’s intake, male and female students intake of meat and fish, and onugbu soup was equal.

Anthropometic assessment
The distribution of body mass indices for the male students across the Universities was as presented in fig 1 below. Majority of the students were within the level of 18.5-22.8kg/m2 BMI, 84.85 % in Uniport, 83.3% in Unical, 86.4% in Unizik and 67.7% in Unimyke were within this normal range.

Very few of the students in the four locations were within the overweight category of 25.0-29.9 (kg/m2) BMI. These were 6.1 % in Uniport, 4.2% in Unical, and 33.3% in Unimyke. Some students were also underweight (BMI less than 18.5 kg/m2). These were 9.19 % in Uniport, 12.5% in Unical and 33.3% in Unimyke.

BMI of male university students

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FIG II below summarized the body mass indices for female university students. All  (100%) female students in Unimyke who were involved in the study were within the normal range as well as 95% of Unizik, 86.4% of Unical  and 87.5% of Uniport participant. Few 3.1% in Uniport, 3.6% in Unical and 5% in Unizik) were within the overweight range. Some were identified within the over weight range ( 9.4% and 4.4% in Uniport and Unical respectively.)


BMI of female university students

 

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 Analysis of variance result on energy and nutrient intake comparison of male university students
Table 4 summarized the result of energy and nutrient intake comparison of male university students. The ANOVA results of multiple comparison of energy and nutrient intake scores showed that there was no significant difference between the means of the paired Universities in energy, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin A , thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin C, and protein except in protein intake between Uniport-Unizik – and Unical –Unizik. There was significant difference in protein intake between the mean of Uniport-Unizik and Unical-Unizik. This was because from table  4,the computed significance  Uniport-Unizik(.0000) And Unical-Unizik (.0006) were each less than the level of significance 0.05. This means that the observed differences in mean of protein intake in Universities; Uniport (79.30300), Unizik (66.913) Unical (79.1667) and Unizik (966.3913) were significant.


Table 4 Comparison of energy and nutrient intake of male university students
Section i                male students energy intake
Universities               Mean Difference                                           Signifcance                Interval
Upem-Ucem                     1.2008                                                    1.000                             -8.5522, 10.9537
Upem-Uzem                      1.7207                                                  1.000                             -8.1543, 11.5956
Upem-Umem                    .5758                                                   1.000                             -21.3470, 22.4985
Ucem-Uzem                      .5199                                                    1.000                           -10.0882, 11.1281
Ucem-Umem                    -.6250                                                  1.000                            -22.8876, 21.6376
Uzem-Umem                    -1.144                                                   1.000                              -23.4613,  211714

Section II Male students’ protein intake
Uppm-Ucpm                    1.1364                                                  1.000                              -8.6166, 10.8893
Uppm- Uzpm                  12.9117                                                 1.000                              3.0368, 22.7867
Uppm-Umpm                  1.6364                                                1.000                              -20.2864, 22.7867
Ucpm-Umpm                  11.7754                                               1.000                              1.1672  22.3835
Ucpm- Umpm                  0.5000                                                1.000                             -21.7626, 22.7626
 Uzpm-Umpm                 -11.2754                                              1.000                              -33.5917, 11.0410

Section III Male students calcium intake
Upcm –Uccm                  1.6288                                                                 1.000                                    -81242, 11.3817
Uppm –Uzpm                 6.3426                                   1.000              -3.5324, 16.2175
Upcm – Umzm               10.2121                                 1.000              -11.7106, 19.1340
Uccm- Umzm                 4.7138                                   1.000              -5.8944, 15.3219
Uccm-Umcm                  8.5833                                   1.000              -13.6793, 30.8460
Uzcm-Umcm                  3.8696                                   1.000              -18.4468, 26.1859

Section IV Male students zinc intake
Upzm-Uczm                  -2.386                              1.000                     -9.9916, 9.5143
Upzm-Uzzm                  .7378                               1.000                     -9.1371,10.6127
Upzm-Umzm                -3.3636                             1.000                     -25.2864, 18.5591
Uczm-Uzzm                  .9764                               1.000                     -9.6317, 11.5846
Uczm- Umzm                -3.1250                            1.000                     -25.3876, 19.1376
Uzzm-Umzm                 -4.1014                            1.000                     -26.4178, 18.2149

Section V Male students  iron intake
Upim-Ucim                    -2.9848                           1.000                     -12.7378, 6.7681
Uppim-Uzim                  -2.5283                           1.000                     -12.4033, 7.3466
Upim-Umim                   -2.4848                           1.000                     -24.4076, 19.4349
Ucim-Uzim                     .4565                              1.000                     -10.1516, 11.0647

Ucim-Umim                   .5000                                            1.000                            -21.7626, 22.7626       

Uzim-Umim                   .0435                               1.000                     -22.2729, 22598

Section VI Male students vitamin a intake compared
Upvam-Ucvam                2.9242                           1.000                     -6.8287, 12.6772
Upvam-Uzvam                3.0909                           1.000                        -6.7840, 12.9658
Upvam-Umvam               -0.5758                          1.000                     -22.4985, 21.3470
Ucvam-Umvam                 .1667                           1.000                           -10.4415, 10.7748
Ucvam-Umvam               -3.5000                          1.000                     -25.7626, 18.7626
Uzvam-Umvam               -3.6667                          1.000                     -25.9830, 18.6497

Section VII Male students thiamin intake
Upvbim-Ucvbim              4.96214                         1.000                     -4.7908, 14.7151
Upvbim- Uzvbim             2.4585                           1.000                     -7.4164, 12.3334
Ucvbim-Umvbim              -3.4545                        1.000                     -25.3773. 18.4682
Ucvbim-Uzvbim               -2.5036                                                             1.000                                      13.1116, 8.1045
Ucvbim-Umvbim              -8.4147                                                             1.000                                    -30.6793, 13.8460
Uzvbim- Umvbim             -5.9130                                                             1.000                                     -28.2294, 16.4033

Section VIII Male students riboflavin intake
Ubvb2m-Ucvb2m            .1023                                                                  1.000                                   -9.6507, 9.8552
Upvr2m-Uzbv2m            -4.5916                          1.000                     -14.4665, 5.2834
Ucvb2m-Umvb2m           -7.3750                         1.000                     -29.1955, 14.6500
Ucvb2m-Uzv2bm            -4.6933                          1.000                     -15.3020, 4.7143
Ucvb2m-Umvb2m           -7.3750                         1.000                     -29.6376, 14.8876
Uzvb2m-Umvb2m           -2.6812                         1.000                     -24.9975, 19.6352

Section IX Male students ascorbic acid intake
Upvcm-Ucvcm               -.4545                             1.000                     -10.2076,9.2984
Upvcm-Uzvcm               -4.2372                                             1.000               -14.1121, 5.6378
Upvcm-Umvcm              -4.7879                           1.000                     -26.7106, 17.1339
Ucvcm-Uzvcm                -3.7826                          1.000                     -14.3908, 6.8256
Ucvcm-Umvcm               -4.3333                          1.000                     -26.5960, 17.9239
Uzvcm-Umvcm               -.5507                            1.000                     -22.8671, 21.7656
 

 

Table 6 Analysis of  variance result on energy and nutrient intake comparison of female university students.


Table 6 summarized the result of energy and nutrient intake comparison of female university students. The ANOVA result of multiple comparison of energy and nutrient intake scores showed that there was no significant difference between the mean of the paired Universities in energy, protein calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin A , thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin C except thiamin intake between Uniport and Unizik where the difference was significant. This was because from table 19cvii the computed significance was less than the level of significance. (0.05) this means that the observed mean in thiamin intake; Uniport (73.1250) and Unizik (62.857) were significantly different.



Table 6A: Descriptive  statistics of energy and nuttrient intake of female university students

S/N University/ Nutrients/ Gender   Code                   Mean         Std  Dev.               N
1       Uniport     Energy   Female      Upef             73.4375         7.22423                    32
2       Uniport      Protein  Female      Uppf             79.2500        9.0518                       32      
3       Uniport      Calcuim Female     Upcf             84.7500        7.5947                        32
4       Uniport      Zinc       Female     Upzf              80.5321         7.5447                      32
5       Uniport      Iron       Female      Upif              80.000          8.0006                       32
6       Uniport      Vit A     Female      Upvaf           73.1250         8.5572                      32 
7       Uniport      Vit B1    Female       Upvbif          83.0313         10.5547                    32
8       Uniport      Vit B2    Female       Upvcf            81.6562          9.5050                     32
9       Uniport      Vit  C    Female      Ucef              72.8261         7.8806                      32
10     Unical       Energy    Female     Ucpf              78.1304          6.7162                       23
11     Unical      Protein     Female      Ucpf             84.5219         10.5881                    23
12     Unical       Calcuim  Female      Uccf             78.7391          6.6597                     23
13     Unical       Zinc        Female      Uczl              79.8261          8.6351                    23
14     Unical       Iron         Female      Ucif             76.5217           8.5421                    23
15     Unical      Vit A       Female      Ucvaf            71.1739          7.1469                    23
16     Unical      Vit B1      Female      Ucb1f            82.0870          9.6231                    23
17      Unical     Vit B2         Female      Ucb2f             78.3478         10.3128                  23
18     Unical      Vit C        Female      Ucvcf              79.0000         6.7191                    23
19     Unizik      Energy      Female     Uzef              77.4286          10.5886                 21
20     Unizik      Protein     Female      Uzpf              86.6190         6.6571                    21
21     Unizik      Calcuim    Female     Uzcf              79.2557           8.6351                  21
22     Unizik       Zinc         Female      Uzzf             74.1429           8.5421                   21
23     Unizik       Iron         Female       Uzif             73.6190           9.6231                   21 
24     Unizik      Vit A       Female       Uzvaf           62.8571          10.3128                  21
25     Unizik      Vit B1      Female      Uzvb1f          76.8096           6.7191                    21
26     Unizik      Vit B2         Female        Uzvb2f           81.7143          8.1713                    21
27     Unizik      Vit C       Female       Uzvcf            81.7143           7.7597                   21
28     Unimyke  Energy      Female     Umef             83.3333        6.0277                      3
29     Unimyke  Protein     Female      Umpf              74.0000      9.1615                        3
30     Unimyke  Calcuim    Female      Uncf            79.0000       2.6457                          3
31     Unimyke  Zinc         Female       Umzf           73.6667        6.6583                         3
32     Unimyke  Iron         Female        Umif            71.6667        5.03322                       3
33     Unimyke  Vit A       Female        Umvaf         84.0000       7.0000                          3    
34     Unimyke  Vit B1      Female       Umvb1f        53.3333      9.2915                          3
35     Unimyke  Vit B2         Female         Umvb2f         79.0000        2.6457                        3
36     Unimyke   Vit C       Female       Umvcf          82.6667       6.0277                         3

 


Discussion

According to the findings of this study, meal skipping was common in the selected Universities. Consequently, majority of the students ate twice daily. Reasons for skipping meals were lack of time, weight control, intake of snacks ad beverages. Debby and Kathleen (2006)suggested that university students skipped meals because of irregular schedules while European Food  Information Council (2006) stated that teenagers being exposed to periodic foods  fads and slimming trends skip meals. Consequent upon  meal skipping, some students resorted to snacking and consumption  of soft or alcoholic drinks. These are considered by students as alternatives to regular meals. Delisle et al (1999) suggested that adolescents who often snack on energy dense foods  and skip meals might be involved in some nutritional risks.  Nutritional Health and Medical Research Council (1995) added that whatever reasons for skipping meals and drinking alcohol, the individual could

impair his/her appetite and displace the intake of vital nutrient. Students who drank alcoholic beverages at the exclusion of regular meals may become susceptible to primary malnutrition especially, if they frequently skipped meals, drank alcohols in the place of meals or stayed without meals for a long period of time. This is because the body would loose the needed nutrients especially protein and vitamins which regular meals would supply and which will suffer protection from diseases.

Some students who participated in the study had normal weight for height scores. However, there were a few that were overweight and underweight in all the studied Universities. Those that were over weight could be a few that either prepared their meal or came from fairly rich families that could afford to spend much money on food. The underweight students could be the types that were often involved in practical and strenuous academic work. For instance, as much as 33% (male) underweight students observed in Michael Okpara University Agriculture Umudike could be attributed to intensive agricultural practical work the students were involved in on a daily basis, added to their normal school work.. In addition to Mukhopoidhyay (2004) views that body index is an appropriate variable in determining the nutritional status of adolescents.
This could therefore suggest that over weight and underweight measures observed in some Universities in this study are indications of poor nutritional status. On the other hand, it could be argued that body size of an individual is the sum total of parental size, genetic constitution, climate, socio economic status influences and not just the nutrient intake. Compared body mass index of university students showed no significant difference between each paired university group. In fig 1 and 2 above, the majority of the participants in the study were within 18.5-24.9 kg/m2   normal category.

Result of energy and nutrient  intake comparison between each paired university group showed no

significant differences between all the paired groups except that between Uniport  and Unizik and that between Unical and Unizik. The high protein intake of Unical and Uniport could be due to their locations at the riverine areas which could give them the advantage of obtaining some proteinous sea foods easier.

Conclusion
The study has made some revelations concerning the food habits and nutritional statusof University students in the south eastern Nigeria. The researcher observed that the university students live mainly in the hostels and obtain meals mainly from mobile fod vendors and cafeterias in the respective Universities. The level of funding by parents and guidance to the students were inadequate for three good and adequate meals per day. Consequent upon low funding and congested academic program, most students skip meals. Lunch was mostly skipped followed by breakfast . snacking habit of the students across the Universities were high. Snacks were mainly of energy dense foods and they were taken along side with carbonated, malted or drinks.

Meal selection and intake were not based on the nutrient content of food in most of the Universities especially in Uniport, Unical, Unizik where most students had poor nutrition knowledge.

In view of the students’ poor feeding habit and tedious academic programs,some students in the selected Universities were discovered to be underweight or overweight. This is an indication of poor nutrition status on the students.

Intakes of energy, protein, calcium, thiamine was not met by any male student at 91-100% of recommendation requirement. Same was the situation  in energy, protein and iron intake by female university students. Maximum intakes of the nutrients were met at 81-90% of recommendation requirement by male and female university students.

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