According to their BMI values, the majority of the male (54%) and female (55%) undergraduates’ nutritional status was at their normal weight while 32% of males and 41% of females reported being in the underweight category. However, 11% of male and 6% of female students were overweight and 2% (one student) of female students were obese (Table 1).
The mean nutrient intake of the male and female undergraduates was compared with the recommendations provided by the DGA and WHO for a general adult population (Table 2). The mean energy intake per day of male undergraduates was 1723 ± 296 kcal, whereas that of females was 1607 ± 365 kcal. Only 11% of males and 3% of females met with the minimum recommended energy intake/day compared to the recommended energy intake for males and females 2400 kcal and 2000 kcal respectively as provided by DGA (Table 2). On average, male undergraduates showed a significant deficit of energy by 677 kcal/day (t = 13.31, p = 0.000), while female undergraduates were significantly short of 393 kcal/day (t = -8.61, p = 0.000).
Energy intake and macronutrient intake
In comparison to the DGA’s RDA for the carbohydrate intake (130 g), both females (252 g, t = 15.97, p = 0.000) and males (273 g, t = 17.65, p = 0.000) showed a significantly higher intake being 193% and 210% high respectively. Further, according to the DGA’s AMDR (45–65%) and WHO nutritional goal (55–75%) % energy (E) requirement received from carbohydrates by all males (100%) and females (100%) were within the recommended ranges (Table 2).
However, the mean protein intake of female (44 g, t = -1.97, p = 0.027)) and male (49 g, t = -4.25, p = 0.000) undergraduates were significantly below the DGA recommendations as RDA for protein 46 g, and 56 g respectively. Therefore, only 19% of male and 39% of female students met with the DGA’s RDA of proteins. The mean % E requirement received from protein for both males and females was 11 ± 1 which is closer to the lower end of the recommendations (10–35). However, when comparing with the WHO recommendations of 10 – 15, percent energy (% E) from proteins, all (100%) male and female students were within the recommended range. Furthermore, according to the DGA recommendations as AMDR for protein (10–35%), 39% of females and 17% of males met the nutritional goal for protein. According to the nutritional goals for proteins provided by WHO (10–15%) 81% of females and 93% of males met the energy contribution through protein (Table 2).
The contribution of energy from total fat was met by 100% of both males and females according to recommendations of DGA (20–35%) and WHO (15–30%). However, according to WHO recommendations % E received from total Fat, 45% of females and 61% of males met the nutritional goals, while 55% of females exceeded by 2.9 ± 2.3% and 39% of males exceeded the total fat intake by 2.2 ± 1.9%. A 20% of males (t = 22.17, p = 0.000) and 21% of females (t = 26.66, p = 0.000) exhibited to be significantly higher mean intake of saturated fat than the recommendation of < 10% per day and females in comparison to both DGA’s DGR and WHO (Table 2).
All females and males did not consume an Adequate Intake (AI) of dietary fiber according to DGA’s recommended 28 g and 33.6 g respectively. However, according to the WHO nutritional goals, only 8% of females met the recommendations of > 25 g per day. Therefore, the mean dietary fiber intake of males (9 g, t = -36.62, p = 0.000) and females (10 g, t = -16.08, p = 0.000) was significantly lower than the recommended intake of > 25 g/day (Table 2).
Comparison of micro-nutrient intake with the recommendation
The micronutrients in the dietary intake of the undergraduates were compared with the recommendations provided by the WHO for both males and females in a general population (Table 3).
The intake of Ca, and K was significantly low in all male and female students. Therefore, the Ca intake of females (408 mg, t = -35.6, p = 0.000), and males (430 mg, t = -4.25, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 1000 mg. Similarly, the K intake of females (1501 mg, t = -45.8, p = 0.000) and males (1538 mg, t = -39.7, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 3500 mg for both females and males. The Mg intake of females (180 mg, t = -7.3, p = 0.000) and males (188 mg, t = -10.9, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 220 mg for females and that of 260 mg for males. However, 16% of females and 02% of males meet the RDA for Mg. Further, none of the female students had the RDA for Iron (19.6 mg), while 66% of males met the RDA of 9.1 mg. The mean iron intake of males (10 mg, t = 2.74, p = 0.010) was significantly higher than the minimum RDA, while females’ intake of 9 mg (t = -42.4, p = 0.000) was significantly lower than RDA. The sodium intake of both males (2489 mg) and females (2424 mg) was significantly higher (t = 5.6, p = 0.000) than the recommended upper limit of 2000 mg. Further, only 20% of females and 15% of males had their sodium intake within the recommended limit. No male or female undergraduates met the RDA for iodine dietary intake of 150 μg. The mean iodine intake of males (64 μg) and females (56 μg) were 43% and 37% lower than the recommendation, respectively. However, the recommended dietary intake was met for selenium by 93% of males and 91% of females. The mean Zn intake of females (6 mg, t = 8.8, p = 0.000), was significantly higher than the RDA of 4.9 mg, while males met with the RDA 7.0 mg. Further, 84% of females and 44% of males meeting with the daily Zn requirement (Table 3).
The mean Vitamin A intake of females (339 μg) and males (353 μg) was significantly lower than the RDA of females 500 μg (t = -4.86, p = 0.000) and males 600 μg (t = -10.43, p = 0.000), respectively. Further, only 9% of females and 5% of males met the RDA for Vitamin A. The mean Vitamin E intake of females (1.9 mg) and males (1.8 mg) were 82% and 75% below the RDA of 7.5 mg and 10 mg, respectively. Further, the Vitamin E intake of females (1.9 mg, t = -26.35, p = 0.000) and males (1.8 mg, t = -71.26, p = 0.000) were significantly below the recommendation while none of the females or males met the daily Vitamin E requirement. The mean Vitamin D intake of females (0.9 μg, t = -41.00, p = 0.000) and males (1.1 μg, t = -29.65, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 5 μg and none of the females and males were met the RDA of Vitamin D intake. The Vitamin C intake of females (21 mg, t = -13.71, p = 0.000) and males (18 mg, t = -18.25, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 45 mg while only 6% of females and 02% of males met the RDA of Vitamin C. The thiamine intake of females (0.5 mg) was significantly below the RDA of 1.1 mg (t = -48.0, p = 0.000) while that of males (0.6 mg, t = -18.3, p = 0.000) was significantly below the recommended (1.2 mg), hence, none of females and males met with the requirements. Further, the Riboflavin intake of females (0.5 mg, t = -24.0, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 1.1 mg, and that of males (0.5 mg, (t = -33.5, p = 0.000) was significantly below the recommendations (1.6 mg). Further, only 2% of females met the RDA, while none of the males met the RDA of Riboflavin intake. The folate intake of females (180 μg) and males (198 μg) was fulfilled only 45% and 49.5% of RDA, respectively. Therefore, none of the female or male undergraduates met the RDA of folate intake. Similarly, none of the females and males met the RDA of Vitamin B6 intake and Vitamin B12 intake. The vitamin B6 intake of females (0.8 mg, t = -20.0, p = 0.000) and males (0.9 mg, t = -12.17, p = 0.000) was significantly below the RDA of 1.3 mg, while Vitamin B12 intake of females 1.4 μg (t = -16.0, p = 0.000) and males 1.3 μg (t = -16.7, p = 0.000) also significantly below the RDA of 2.4 μg. However, 73% of females and 66% of males met the RDA of Niacin intake with a mean intake of 16 mg and 18 mg, respectively (Table 3).
The total energy intake of those with BMIs underweight, normal, overweight, and obese was lower than the recommended dietary intake (2000 kcal for females, 2400 kcal for males). Further, the mean intake of protein was within the recommended value in the obese, overweight and normal-weight BMI population, while the underweight showed a low protein intake (43 g). The carbohydrate intake was higher in all BMI ranges than the recommended value, while the intake of obese > overweight > normal > underweight. However, the % E contribution through carbohydrates for all BMI categories ranged from the mean 60 – 58%. Added sugar was within the recommendation of all BMI categories while the mean saturated fat was higher than the recommendation ranging between 20 -21%. Further, the total fat was within the recommended values in all BMI categories and showed a low intake of dietary fibers as compared to the recommendations (Table 4).
The iron intake of all BMI groups was in the range of the iron intake of men, yet much below that is required by females (19.6 mg). The zinc level was high as compared to female intake while the normal weight group met with the recommendation for men. The intake of selenium and sodium was high in all BMI categories than the recommended while, iodine, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E were below the recommendation in all BMI groups. The intake of niacin is within the range of the underweight category, while that of normal and overweight was higher while that of the obese group is low (Table 5).