Evaluation of Eating Habits among Portuguese University Students: A Preliminary Study

Portuguese diet has been gradually diverging from the basic principles of healthy eating, leading to an unbalanced dietary pattern which, associated with increasing sedentary lifestyle, has a negative impact on public health. The main objective of this work was to characterize the dietary habits of university students in Viseu, Portugal. The study consisted of a sample of 80 university students, aged between 18 and 28 years. Anthropometric data (weight (kg) and height (m)) were collected and Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated. The dietary habits were assessed through a three-day food record and the software Medpoint was used to convert food into energy and nutrients. The results showed that students present a normal body mass index. Female university students made a higher number of daily meals than male students, and these last skipped breakfast more frequently. The values of average daily intake of energy, macronutrients and calcium were higher in males. The food pattern was characterized by a predominant consumption of meat, cereal, fats and sugar. Dietary intake of dairy products, fruits, vegetables and legumes does not meet the recommendations, revealing inadequate food habits such as hypoglycemic, hyperprotein and hyperlipidemic diet. Our findings suggest that preventive interventions should be focus in promoting healthy eating habits and physical activity in adulthood.

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