Body Mass Index and its Association with Energy Intake and Expenditure among University Students in Nairobi County
Karugu, Francis Njeru
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Overweight and obesity in all populations are now realised as worldwide epidemic health problems. The aetiology of these conditions suggests a disruption in regulation of energy at the population level, leading to a positive energy balance and excess adiposity among others.Overweight and obesity can be defined in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters (kg/m2).The aim of this study was, therefore, to measure the BMI and find out its association with physical activity and energy intake among university students in Nairobi County, Kenya. The target population comprised full-time students in selected public and private universities in Nairobi County.The population data was divided into two strata: public universities and private universities with a sample of 384 respondents obtained through stratified random sampling. Data management and analyses were done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) program version 17.0. BMI was categorised into underweight, normal, overweight and obese. The association among energy intake and expenditure and BMI was determined by Spearman’s rho and Pearson correlation coefficients. The results were presented in tables and figures. The findings of this study indicated that overweight and obesity status was 6.5% and 1.0% respectively. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among public university students was 3.8% and 0.7% respectively compared to the private university students (2.7% and 0.3% respectively). In the study, 91.2% of the males’ energy intake was less than the recommended daily allowances (RDAs), and 8.8% had an energy intake above the RDAs s compared to 93.4% of females who had energy intake below RDAs and 6.6% above RDAs. Correlation analysis of the association between energy intake through dieting and BMI score of the university students was significant (P<.01). The study findings also indicated that 40.5% of the students had a high score of participation in physical activity while 8.6% had a low physical activity level. However, the analysis of the association between physical activity and BMI of the university students was not significant (P = .608).