Assessment of Nutritional Status among Undergraduate Students at a Nairobi Tertiary Institution Using BMI and Waist Circumference Metrics

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Ndung’u, Joseph Mburu
Waudo, Judith
Kobia, Joseph
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This study investigated the impact of dietary and lifestyle changes on the nutritional status of undergraduate students during their transition to university life and the associated risk for non-communicable diseases. A review of global studies indicated varying prevalence rates of overweight and obesity among university students, influenced by diet, physical activity, and sleep patterns. This research specifically assessed the nutritional status of Kenyatta University students in Nairobi, Kenya, with an emphasis on the limited studies utilizing both BMI and waist circumference for assessment. Employing a cross-sectional, analytical design, the study was conducted at Kenyatta University Main Campus in Nairobi County. This public research university, founded in 1970, was selected for its urban setting and its representation of young adults. The target population comprised undergraduate students pursuing bachelor’s degrees, with inclusion criteria of voluntary participation and at least six months on campus. Multi-stage stratified sampling was used to select 260 participants. Data were collected through a structured questionnaire, pretested on 10% of the sample, with reliability assessed via a test-retest method. Anthropometric measurements were taken by trained research assistants. Data analysis was performed using SPSS version 24, evaluating nutritional status with BMI and waist circumference. Ethical considerations and COVID-19 protocols were rigorously observed. Findings revealed that, based on BMI, 67.5% of respondents had normal weight, while 8.4%, 16.5%, and 7.6% were underweight, overweight, and obese, respectively. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity (BMI ≥ 25) was 24.1%. Female respondents showed a higher prevalence of obesity (63.2%) and overweight (73.2%) compared to males. In the underweight category, more males were underweight (57.1%) than females. Waist circumference assessment indicated that 21.7% had abdominal obesity, with a higher prevalence among females (87%) compared to males (13%), highlighting a gender-based risk factor for abdominal obesity. The study’s BMI analysis revealed a substantial proportion of respondents within the normal weight range, with significant gender disparities in obesity and overweight prevalence. The waist circumference assessment underscored a notable occurrence of abdominal obesity, particularly among females, indicating gender-specific susceptibility to this health concern.
Nutritional Status, Obesity, Waist Circumference, BMI, Undergraduate Students, Gender Disparities
Ndung'u, J., Waudo, J., & Kobia, J. (2024). Assessment of Nutritional Status Among Undergraduate Students at a Nairobi Tertiary Institution Using BMI and Waist Circumference Metrics. African Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, 3(1), 76-89.