Food group consumption pattern of school-aged children and adolescents inside and outside the school setting
: a cross-sectional study of a community in north-eastern Iran
Objectives: The objective of this study is to describe the food group consumption pattern of school-aged children and adolescents inside and outside the school setting.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study of 384 primary and secondary school students, and enrolled in 1th to 12th grade in schools of the province of North Khorasan, Iran. Food intake and dietary pattern were assessed using a validated Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and 24-hour diet recalls (24HRs), through a self-reported three-day dietary record. The 24HRs were collected by trained interviewers between March and May 2019. The frequency of consumption of foods or food groups was summarized by a single value for each school student, according to the recommendations provided by the Department of Community Nutrition in Iranian Ministry of the Health and Medical Education.
Results: Most of the primary and secondary school students were eating fewer than the optimum recommended servings of milk and milk products (39.8%), fruits and natural juices (63.8%) and vegetables and tubers (47.1%), the optimum recommended servings of meats and eggs (49.0%), and more than the optimum recommended servings of bread and cereals (47.1%) and legumes and nuts (46.4%). According to the mean of 24-hour recalls, there were significant differences in the consumption of food groups between the tertiles of the dietary pattern (p<0.05).
Conclusions: There is evidence that school-aged children and adolescents are in food insecurity. The study reinforces the importance of nutrition education actions and more effective public policies for promoting healthier food choices in childhood and adolescence.
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