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Title: Food consumption patterns in Maltese students aged 12 to 14 years
Authors: Busuttil, Danielle
Keywords: Food consumption -- Malta
Body mass index
Obesity in adolescence -- Malta
Obesity in children -- Malta
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Busuttil, D. (2011). Food consumption patterns in Maltese students aged 12 to 14 years (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: The aim of this study was to obtain information on the typical food consumption patterns of Maltese children aged between 12 and 14 years; as well as perceptions of parents/guardians regarding their child's weight and lifestyle habits. The objectives of the study were to identify the eating habits and food intake of the sample population and in addition, identify any discrepancies between self-reported Body Mass Index (BMI) and anthropometrically measured BMI. Food habits could then be correlated with BMI levels and other variables. This would enable the identification of areas which should be targeted in nutritional and educational interventions. A quantitative cross-sectional design was used. The sample, selected by random cluster sampling, consisted of 372 students aged between 12 and 14 years, and 288 of their parents. Students from nine schools across Malta and Gozo were recruited. A validated questionnaire was administered to students and to parents. Anthropometric measures of height and weight were also collected. Various statistical tests were utilized to analyse the data collected and correlate variables. Results revealed the most popular beverages and food items among the sample population at different meal times. With the exception of breakfast, water and regular soft drinks were found to be the most popular drinks at all meal times. Results also showed that the most popular food groups were the groups high in carbohydrates for breakfast through lunch at school, through children's meal at home after school. In the evening and in between meals, foods high in fats and sugars were the most popular. These types of food were also popular for children's meal at home after school. Males were found to be more likely than females to Summary consume junk food; while females were more likely than males to consume food items rich in carbohydrates. No significant associations were found between consuming food from any food group and parent's level of education completed and BMI category. A significant association was found with regard to time spent in physical activity, with those spending the least time engaged in physical activity per day being more likely to consume carbohydrate-rich food at any point during the day, while those spending 3-4 hours being the least likely. It was also found that the less time participants reported spending in sedentary behaviour the more likely they were to consume fruit and vegetables, as well as food items rich in carbohydrates, at any point during the day. Students coming from the Northern Harbour area were found to be more likely to consume junk food at any point during the day. On the other hand, students coming from Gozo were the most likely to consume fruit and vegetables. With regard to Body Mass Index (BMI), the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity was found to be 40.2%. No statistically Significant difference was found between self-reported and anthropometrically measured BM!. On the other hand, a statistically Significant difference was found between parents' perception of their child's weight and the child's actual weight. No significant differences were found between BMI and other variables. Overall, a general idea of the broad categories of the types of food children are consuming was achieved. This, together with other findings, can serve as a Summary guide towards the development of interventions which can not only serve to reduce the local obesity epidemic, but also prevent it from increasing. Summary
Description: M.SC. PUBLIC HEALTH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacM&S - 2011
Dissertations - FacM&SPH - 2011

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