Physical Activity and Dietary Patterns in Relation to Weight Status among University Students in Nairobi county, Kenya
Kariuki, James Mwangi
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Kenya is experiencing a rapid transition of physical activity and nutrition involving less physical activity participation and increased intake of high-calorie foods with poor nutrients. University years are when young people live independently or reside far from home, leading to decreased physical activity participation and adoption of poor dietary patterns. Poor health habits persist beyond the university years. This study examined university students' physical activity and dietary patterns in Nairobi County and compared them to their weight status. Data was collected using questionnaires from 260 students on their dietary patterns and physical activity. Their anthropometric measurements were used to calculate their B.M.I. (Body Mass Index). Data analysis was conducted via SPPS version 20 and the relationship between variables were established via Chi-square while predictors of weight status were determined via ordinal logistic regression. A p-value of less than 0.05 was considered significant and tables used to present the findings. Results indicated that only 18.8% of the students participated and met the recommended vigorous physical activity levels (at least 75 minutes per week) while 53.5% of the students participated and met the recommended moderate physical activity levels (at least 150 minutes per week). Students also exhibited poor dietary patterns whereby students consumed fast foods, sweetened beverages, and pastries most times in a week. Regarding weight status, 31.2% were overweight, 6.2% were obese, and 3.1% were underweight, and 59.6% were normal. Chi-square test showed significant association of vigorous physical activity participation and weight status (p=0.049), tea with sugar and weight status (p=0.035), raw vegetables and weight status (p=0.026), chips and weight status (p<0.001), cooked vegetables, and weight status (p<0.001) and pastries and weight status (p=0.021). Regular soda, tea with sugar, chips, cooked vegetables, and pastries were strong predictors of weight status. In conclusion, most students failed to achieve the levels of vigorous physical activity recommended. The students also consumed diets high in sugar and fats and the prevalence of overweight and obese was high. Efforts should be made to promote physical activity participation and good dietary practices within university environments.