We examined nutrition behaviour, self-reported health and 20 health complaints of undergraduates in Finland. Students at the University of Turku in Finland participated in a cross-sectional online survey (N = 1189). For nutrition behaviour, we computed two composite food intake pattern scores (sweets, cakes and snacks; and fruits and vegetables), a dietary guideline adherence index and the subjective importance of healthy eating. Multinomial logistic regression assessed the association of students' nutrition behaviour with three levels of self-reported health, controlling for many potential confounders (age, sex, living with partner, economic situation, moderate physical activity, Faculty and BMI). Factor analysis of the 20 health complaints revealed three components (psychological, pains/aches and circulatory/breathing symptoms). Multiple linear regression tested the association of students' eating habits with the three components of health complaints, controlling for the same confounders. Fruits and raw and cooked vegetable consumption, dietary guideline adherence index and subjective importance of healthy eating were highest among students with excellent/very good self-reported health, exhibiting a decreasing trend for those individuals with poor/fair self-reported health. High levels of psychological symptoms were associated with decreased consumption of fruits and vegetables, less dietary guideline adherence and less subjective importance of healthy eating. Pain/aches symptoms were associated with a higher consumption of sweets, cookies and snacks and a lower adherence to dietary guidelines. More healthy nutrition behaviour was consistently associated with better self-reported health and less health complaints. Of the four nutrition behaviour indicators we employed, the dietary guideline adherence index was the best indicator and exhibited the most consistent associations with self-reported health and health complaints.
Little is known about the mediating effects of the determinants of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake in school-based interventions that promote FV intake, and few studies have examined the impact of the degree of implementation on the effects of an intervention. The present study examined whether the degree of implementation of an intervention had an effect on children's fruit or vegetable intake and determined possible mediators of this effect. The study is part of the European PRO GREENS intervention study which aimed to develop effective strategies to promote consumption of fruit and vegetables in schoolchildren across Europe. Data from 727 Finnish children aged 11 years were used. The baseline study was conducted in spring 2009 and the follow-up study 12 months later. The intervention was conducted during the school year 2009-2010. The effects were examined using multilevel mediation analyses. A high degree of implementation of the intervention had an effect on children's fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and liking mediated the association between a high degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and bringing fruits to school as a snack mediated the association between a low degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Overall, the model accounted for 34 % of the variance in the change in fruit intake frequency. Knowledge of recommendations acted as a mediator between the degree of implementation of the intervention and the change in vegetable intake frequency. In conclusion, the degree of implementation had an effect on fruit intake, and thus in future intervention studies the actual degree of implementation of interventions should be assessed when considering the effects of interventions.
The transition of young people from school to university has many health implications. Food choice at the university can differ because of childhood food consumption patterns, sex and the living arrangements. Food consumption may change especially if students are living away from home. We aimed to assess food consumption patterns among university students from four European countries and how they differ by their living arrangements.
We analysed data from a cross-country survey assessing health and health behaviours of students. The sample comprised a total of 2402 first year undergraduate students from one university in each of the countries of Germany, Denmark, Poland and Bulgaria. Food consumption was assessed by means of a food frequency questionnaire with 9 food groups (indicators).
Students' food consumption patterns differed across the countries. Frequent consumption of unhealthy items was common. Bulgarian students reported most often frequent consumption of sweets and cakes and snacks (e.g. chips and fast food). Polish students reported the least frequent consumption of vegetables and a low consumption of fruits. Across all countries except Bulgaria, men reported substantially more often frequent consumption of snacks than women. Students living at parental home consumed more fruit, vegetables, and meat than those who resided outside of their family home in all studied countries. There was more variation with regard to cakes and salads with more frequent consumption of cakes among Bulgarian female students and Danish male students and more frequent consumption of salads among Danish female students not living at parental home, compared to students from other countries.
Nutrition habits of university students differed across countries and by sex. Students living at parental home displayed more healthy nutrition habits, with some exceptions.
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