Nutritional Knowledge and Dietary Habits Survey in High School Population
During adolescence, young people are in a sensitive transition period when they gradually take over the responsibility for their own eating habits, health attitudes and behaviours and create lifelong habits so it is essential that they adopt healthy habits according to dietary recommendations. Knowledge is one of the factors necessary for the changes in dietary habits. The objective of this study was to gain insight in nutritional knowledge and dietary habits of adolescents. The sample included 117 adolescents aged 17 – 19 years. Self-administered, anonymous questionnaire, representing modified version of General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire was used to assess general characteristics, nutritional knowledge about nutrients, dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, diet-disease relationship, and dietary habits. Less than one third of adolescents showed satisfactory knowledge, but boys, adolescents from rural environment and overweight adolescents showed significantly lower knowledge unlike others. Meal skipping was present habit, especially for breakfast consumption. Especially high consumption of meat and meat products was noted for boys, while fruit and vegetables for girls. Fad dieting was quite practiced habit, especially in girls and overweight adolescents. Among girls, high consumption of sweets was confirmed, while boys showed high consumption of soft drinks. Television presents the main source of information about nutrition for adolescents. Collected data shows similarity with other research in Europe and North America that confirm strong influence of globalization and fast spread of unhealthy habits. The results pointed out weak spots in nutritional knowledge and revealed unhealthy eating habits. This information is necessary for the development of new approaches to modulate their knowledge and consequently act on their behaviour. Behavioral changes would include higher number of meals per day, regular breakfast consumption, higher intake of fish, lower consumption of meat and meat products, sweetened foods and drinks etc. The final outcome would result in longterm positive impact on dietary habits.
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