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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611

Abstract

MEALHA, Vanessa; FERREIRA, Catarina; GUERRA, Inés  and  RAVASCO, Paula. Students of dietetics & nutrition; a high risk group for eating disorders?. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2013, vol.28, n.5, pp.1558-1566. ISSN 1699-5198.  http://dx.doi.org/10.3305/nh.2013.28.5.6695.

Introduction: Changes in eating behaviour of university students are common and widely studied. Although the risk of developing eating disorders seems to be obvious among nutrition students, there is a lack of research in this field. This study aimed to: determine the risk of developing eating disorders in Dietetics and Nutrition (DN) students, through the comparison of eating behaviours, food habits, nutritional status, body composition and physical activity with those of other college students (from health and non-health degrees). Methods: Cross-sectional and comparative study. The sample included 189 female students, aged 18 to 25 years (20.3 ± 2.0), from two Portuguese public universities. All students were measured (weight, height, % fat mass and waist circumference) and answered four validated questionnaires to assess eating behaviour, food patterns and physical activity. Results: There was a low risk of eating disorders development among these students (4.2%). No significant differences between students from DN, health and non-health degrees concerning eating behaviour, nutritional status and body composition were found, contrasting with differences in some food habits and physical activity (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Despite the low risk of eating disorders among DN students, a large percentage of them had body weight concerns. DN students had the highest percentages of normal weight, no cardio-metabolic risk according to waist circumference and normal fat mass. DN students had the healthiest food habits and they also practiced moderate and intense physical activity in a high percentage, suggesting a possible positive influence of more knowledge on food and health. Results suggested the importance of more research in college students in order to identify the need for intervention and improve their lifestyle.

Keywords : Students of nutrition & dietetics; Eating behaviour; Food habits; Nutritional status; Physical activity.

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