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Influence of the desire to lose weight on food habits, and knowledge of the characteristics of a balanced diet, in a group of Madrid university students


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the desire to lose weight in a group of university students, and to analyse the influence of this desire on declared food habits. The degree of knowledge on what constitutes a balanced diet was also determined.

Design: Cross-sectional population survey.

Subjects: The study subjects were 234 university students (48 males and 186 females) aged 22.3±1.5 y. The weight and height of each were recorded. All subjects were questioned on their desire to lose weight, habitual food intake frequencies, and about what they considered to constitute a balanced diet.

Results: Approximately half the population (47.9%), both male (47.8%) and female (47.9%), expressed a desire to lose weight, even though the percentage of overweight students was low (11.1% overall, although much greater among male students [39.6%] than female students [3.8]). The body mass index (BMI) of those who wanted to lose weight was greater than that of those who did not. Nonetheless, the majority of subjects (especially females) showed BMIs within the normal range (18–25 kg/m2). Among those who wished to lose weight, the consumption of sweet foods was lower — although these subjects believed they ought to consume even less. It was also thought necessary that egg consumption be reduced, although no differences were recorded in declared consumption between those who wished to lose weight and those who did not.

Conclusions: The results show that there is great concern over body weight, although no great differences were seen in the food habits and nutrition knowledge of those who wished to lose weight and those who did not.

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Guarantor: B Navia Lombán

Contributors: BN, RMO and AMR have been involved in the study design and MCM, JMP and AMLS contributed to the analysis of the data, and revision of the paper.

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Correspondence to B Navia.

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Navia, B., Ortega, R., Requejo, A. et al. Influence of the desire to lose weight on food habits, and knowledge of the characteristics of a balanced diet, in a group of Madrid university students. Eur J Clin Nutr 57 (Suppl 1), S90–S93 (2003).

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  • concern over body weight
  • university students
  • knowledge
  • balanced diet
  • food habits
  • declared intake

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