Dietary Practices and Nutrition Status of Adolescents Attending Day Secondary Schools in Kenya
. Munene, Fridah
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Regular meal consumption, consistent physical activity habits and a diet characterized by a favourable nutrient profile all contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Regrettably, the eating behaviours of adolescents are characterized by high consumption of ready to eat foods, frequent snacking especially of food of low nutrition quality and unhealthy weight loss practices such as skipping meals, more so breakfast. The poor choices on what to eat and snack on, made by the adolescents, puts them at risk of being underweight, overweight and or obese. Under nutrition, overweight and obesity are issues of public health concern, as they world faces the double burden of malnutrition. The aim of the study was to determine the dietary habits and nutrition status of adolescents in mixed day public secondary schools. As such, the study adopted a cross-sectional analytical study design. The study population comprised of adolescents in mixed public day secondary schools in Thika, Kiambu County, Kenya where 212 adolescents responded to the study instruments. Data was collected using researcher administered structured questionnaires. Data on dietary intake was collected using 7-day food diary and a seven-day food frequency questionnaire. Anthropometric measures of Weight, height; which was used to calculate body mass index and waist circumference as well hip circumference to calculate waist-hip ratio were also taken to determine the nutrition status. Dietary intake data was analysed using nutri-survey, while WHO anthro-plus was used to calculate the nutrition status of the adolescents. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS (IBMTM) version 20. The results indicated that adolescent skip meals especially the breakfast meal, consume high sugar food, and carbonated drinks. The average energy intake per day was 2467.1±723.96 Kcal with only 21.1% of boy and 35.9% girls attained the RDA. Majority of the respondents 88.7% had z-scores of between < +1sd and >-2sd, 5.7% were at risk of metabolic disorders as assess using waist circumference while 4.7% had abdominal obesity when waist-hip ratio was determined.