Assessment of Energy and Nutrient Intakes Among Undergraduate Students Attending a University in the North of England

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Background: Unhealthy diets are typical of university students and are often thought to be unrepresentative of the general population. The main aim was to determine the energy and nutrient intakes of a large cohort of undergraduate university students; and to compare to gender-specific dietary reference values (DRVs) and nutrient data from the general population.
Methodology: Data was collected from 639 university students aged 18 – 24 years who completed 4-day diet diaries. The energy and nutrient intake was determined and percentage energy values calculated and compared with dietary reference values (DRVs) and the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) and Family Food Statistics. Logistic regression methods were used to identify micronutrients functioning as predictors of exceeding DRVs.
Results: Energy intakes were lower than the DRV. The percentage total energy values for protein, fat, saturated fat and carbohydrate exceeded DRVs but the percentage energy from alcohol was below the maximum 5%. The DRVs were met for vitamin C, thiamin, and sodium/salt. Iron and calcium intakes were met in males but not in females. Intakes for fibre and vitamin A were below the DRV. Student data was comparable to the NDNS, with the exception of alcohol, fibre, vitamin A, calcium and sodium/salt, which were all lower than the NDNS.
Conclusions: This study contradicts the stereotypical assumption that students are following a high energy, fat, saturated fat, total sugars, salt and alcohol diet compared with the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition and Health
Early online date20 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2022


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