Assessment Of Eating Out Preferences And Nutritional Knowledge Among Students Of Panjab University, Chandigarh
Rapid urbanisation has brought about a change in dietary practices, occupation patterns, physical activity and lifestyle. Faulty eating habits and frequent eating at restaurants and fast food joints, results in excess weight gain over time. As per WHO, approximately 20% of the South-East-Asia region (SEAR), consists of adolescents. Diet quality is a major concern for adolescents and youth. Thus, it is important to understand personal food choices, nutrition knowledge, attitude and behaviour to work out managerial practices to avoid health issues. The objective was to assess eating out choices and nutritional knowledge amongst students of Panjab University, Chandigarh. 303 students comprising 152 males and 151 females (approximate ratio- 1:1), aged between 18 to 25 years, admitted in Panjab University served as respondents. Self designed questionnaire was used to assess demographic and nutritional knowledge (2 parameters: diet and disease and comparison of foods) information. The statistical analysis was done using the SPSS software. It was seen that mean age of males and females was 21.17±1.77 years. 94.2% males and 74.2% females enjoyed eating North Indian cuisine more than other cuisines such as South Indian, Chinese, Continental etc. Irrespective of gender, maximum students were vegetarians (p<0.001**). 67.8% males and 72.8% females preferred both fine dining and fast food. Frequency of eating out per month was seen higher in males than females (p<0.004**). Students were observed to be well aware of nutritional knowledge. In relationship between diet and disease parameter, males had more knowledge (8.47±0.79) as compared to females (8.23±1.15), p<0.039*. In comparison of food in terms of nutrient content parameter also, males had statistically significant higher knowledge (9.41±0.68) as compared to females (8.79±1.16), p<0.001**. Thus, it can be concluded that students have optimum nutritional knowledge with males being relatively more aware as compared to females. However, it has also been deduced that students are less health conscious as they eat out quite frequently. Hence it is important to take appropriate managerial steps of providing cohesive learning. Just knowledge of what is right and wrong to consume is not enough. It needs to be implemented in the routine as well. Proper management of food habits and meal planning is essential, or hence the shift towards lifestyle problems of obesity and other non communicable diseases will become more prominent.