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Title: Evaluation of dietary habits of Singaporean post-secondary students
Authors: Tay, Mia Eng
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Adolescence is a period of transition in which the individual changes physically and psychologically from a child to an adult. Relative to other age groups, less is known about the diet of young Singaporeans. The aim of this work was to examine the eating habits of the mid and late adolescents, aged 17 to 21 years old, in Singapore. This age group was selected as they formed the post-secondary cohort in which, they have more autonomy in their food choices and are not bounded by school canteens. Dietary habits were compared between different genders, ethnicities, BMI classes and educational institutes. A particular focus of the study was on diet quality, breakfast intake, out-of-home eating and snacking habits. Multiple pass 24-h recalls and focus groups were used to examine the dietary habits of participants from an ITE (Institute of Technical Education), JC (Junior College) and POLY (polytechnic). A healthy eating index (HEI-SG) and three models for snacking were developed as part of the work. A total of 507 participants (100 participants each from ITE and JC, 307 from POLY) were recruited for the multiple pass 24-h recalls and six focus groups (36 participants from POLY, of which there were 18 Chinese, 9 Malays and 9 Indians) were conducted. Overall median HEI-SG scores were low at 47.2 (IQR 16) out of 100 due to an insufficient intake of total fruits, whole fruits, total vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and a high intake of sodium. More than 55% of the energy intake per day (56.58%, IQR 61.4% for female and 56.77%, IQR 52.7% for male) for both genders was contributed from food purchased out of home. It appeared that almost a third of Singaporean post-secondary students in this sample did not consume breakfast. Snacking behavior appeared frequent but estimation of this was hampered by the lack of a universally accepted definition. Three criteria and models for defining a snack were developed and tested. Divergent number of snacks/snackers were obtained, depending on the criterion used. This is the first study to use the 24-h recall method to assess the dietary intake of late adolescents living in Singapore. Public health strategies to address the low intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products and the high intake of sodium and frequent skipping of breakfast in this population group are recommended.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

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