Document Type: Original Article
CIEC–Research Centre Child Studies, Institute of Education, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
Background: Scientific investigations revealed that dietary habits of students attending higher education are still inadequate and below the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables with higher consumption of foods rich in fats, salt and sugar. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge, attitude and practice on healthy diet among Portuguese university students.
Methods:A cross-sectional study was conducted among 840 university students, using a self-reported questionnaire, previously validated. The questionnaire, in addition to the sociodemographic questions, included a scale of healthy dietary knowledge, attitude and behavior.
Results: The university students were shown to have low healthy dietary
knowledge, moderate healthy dietary attitude and unhealthy dietary habits during the last 7 days. Regarding healthy dietary knowledge, the female students and respondents of natural sciences had the highest score. Considering healthy dietary practice, the older students and the students who changed residence at the time of entrance to higher education had the lowest score. There was a statistically significant and positive correlation between knowledge and practice, knowledge and attitude and finally between attitude and practice.
Conclusion: These findings might help health educators and policy makers to promote and to develop healthy dietary attitudes and practices. Interventions targeting university students seem to be necessary to increase the knowledge on healthy dietary behaviours regarding three main topics of planning and preparing healthy meals, nutritional recommendations and food labels.