The Role Of Nutrition In The Well-Being Of Undergraduates

Project and Seminar Material for Education

The Role Of Nutrition In The Well-Being Of Undergraduates


Abstract


This project investigated the role of nutrition in the well-being of undergraduates using the University of Benin undergraduates as a case study. A descriptive survey research design was used to obtain data. The instrument used was the questionnaire. Fifty questionnaires were administered and all were retrieved.

The study aimed at investigating:

  1. The role nutrition plays in the well-being of undergraduates.
  2. The nutritional problems that are most common among undergraduates.
  3. The factors that affect the nutritional level of undergraduates.
  4. The constituents of an undergraduate’s diet.
  5. Suggestions provided for undergraduates to eat healthy for optimal well-being.

Analysis and interpretation of data revealed that lack of nutritional knowledge among undergraduates has led to some nutritional problems which are prevalent among them; they are swollen gums, weak eyesight and indigestion. These nutritional problems have adverse effects on their performance at school, bodily functions, emotional health and self esteem. Some factors like income/monthly allowance, religion, culture, one’s dwelling place and one’s level of nutritional knowledge were identified to have contributed to inadequate nutrition.

The researcher therefore recommends that nutrition be taught in schools from nursery through tertiary institutions, that seminars be organized by tertiary institutions on the importance of good nutrition and parents and guardians should work hard to provide sufficient funds for their children and wards to feed adequately.


Table of Contents


  • Title page
  • Approval page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract

Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of Problem
  • 1.3 Research Questions
  • 1.4 Purpose of the Study
  • 1.5 Significance of the Study
  • 1.6 Scope of Study
  • 1.7 Limitations
  • 1.8 Definitions of Terms

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.0 Introduction
  • 2.1 Definition of Nutrition
  • 2.2 Food and its Classification
  • 2.3 Balanced Diet
  • 2.4 Roles of Good Nutrition on One’s Well-being
  • 2.5 Factors Affecting Food Selection/Habits
  • 2.6 Problems Associated with Food among Undergraduates
  • 2.7 Healthy Eating
  • 2.8 Summary

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the Study
  • 3.3 Sample and Sampling Technique
  • 3.4 Description of Instrument
  • 3.5 Validity of Instrument
  • 3.6 Reliability of Instrument
  • 3.7 Administration of Instrument
  • 3.8 Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four:

Presentation and Analysis of Data

  • 4.1 Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
  • 4.2 Eating Habits of Undergraduates
  • 4.3 Summary of Findings

Chapter Five:

Conclusion, Implications and Recommendations

  • 5.1 Discussion of the Findings
  • 5.2 Recommendations
  • 5.3 Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Good nutrition is necessary for good health and concern with food is important if certain illnesses are to be prevented. Good nutrition is closely associated with good health – how you look and feel, how well you perform mentally and physically at work or at home.

The body is made up of many materials. These can be supplied by a wide variety of foods to ensure good health. The body is, broadly speaking, the product of its nutrition. You are what you eat. Therefore, it is important that daily decision-making on this important aspect of health be properly guided and should not be based on wrong influences.

A person’s diet is made up of the food they eat. Nutrition is the way that food people eat nourishes their bodies. Good nutrition means your body is getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to work at its best level. Eating a healthy diet is your main way to get good nutrition. These diets should maintain growth, encourage health and be satisfying, as nutrition for undergraduates is important to the way their bodies are shaped for the rest of their lives.

Nutrition is what you eat and how your body uses it. It is your total daily food intake transformed into physical appearance, energy, growth and countless other body functions. Happily, your nutrition is in your hands. Your decisions really count when it comes to the food you eat. Whether you buy and prepare food to be eaten at home or you eat out, you are faced with important food choices.

The basic function of food is to keep us alive and healthy to grow and to reproduce. Food contains nutrients – components that contribute to, and in some cases uniquely provide for, biochemical and physiological functions in the body. Foods may also include non-absorbed components which may influence bowel health and function e.g. some phenolic compounds such as tannins and classes of non-starch polysaccharides (e.g. cellulose). Food may also include contaminants from unusual soil types or from industrial pollution. Heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, and microbial contamination all have potential negative health effects. Foods contain a variety of compounds which can be absorbed and which have important biological effects e.g. caffeine.

Different age groups have different nutritional needs and people’s diets should meet these specific needs. For example, the nutritional needs and diet of a pregnant woman are different from those of an elderly man. Likewise, an infant needs a different diet and nutrition than a teenager. Each of us has different nutritional needs, and these needs are constantly changing. Children’s needs are dictated, in part, by their growth patterns. Adult needs change with age. One set of rules simply cannot apply to everyone. In addition, factors such as a person’s height and current weight, current health status, and activity level also affect what kind of nutrients they need and how much they need.

Optimal nutrition is critical for the development, growth and overall health of undergraduates. It helps ensure optimal cognitive and physical development, prevent sickness and illness and promote overall well-being (Nicklas and Johnson,2004). Despite the benefits of healthy eating, only 30% of youths meet the dietary recommendations for fruits, grains, meat and dairy and 36% for vegetables (Munoz, Kerbs-Smith, Ballard & Cleveland, 1997), based on the Food Guide Pyramid. Further, 16% of youths did not meet any recommendations, and a merger 1% met all recommendations (Munoz et el, 1997).

School-based programs can play an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles and diets among students — through “direct” and “indirect” avenues. These include formal health and nutrition curriculums and school lunch programs and other provisions of foods, respectively (Passmore, 1996). Several studies have shown that youths are interested in learning about nutrition and generally believe nutrition is important to good health (Murphy, Youatt, Hoerr, Sawyer & Andrews, 1994).

The general topic to be discussed in this research plan is nutrition, undergraduates’ eating habits and what imparts it has on them. The diet an undergraduate has can either have a positive or negative impart on his well-being. This research will look into the roles nutrition play in the all round well-being and performance of undergraduates using the University of Benin undergraduates as a case study.


1.2 Statement of Problem

Good nutrition requires a balance of food, vitamins and minerals (from eating a healthy diet) and physical activity. Overweight and obesity can result if things get out of balance —such as eating too much food, not getting enough physical activity or having too much of one or more nutrients in the diet. Health risks associated with being overweight or obese include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and arthritis, among other risks. Good nutrition is a critical step in helping control your weight and preventing the risks that come from being overweight or obese.

The health of undergraduates has been slowly deteriorating over the years and this is not a new phenomenon that educators and parents have to address. The challenges associated with making undergraduates healthier are enormous and have posed problems for political and school officials as well as educators in the front lines of this struggle. Peterson (2008) states that lack of physical activity, diet, parental involvement are all factors that are affecting the health of students today. Educators can have a direct impact on many of these areas and it is important to have a well-developed understanding of the contributing factors so appropriate decisions about interventions can be made, especially if they affect parental involvement. It is important to note that contributing factors to the health of undergraduates is not limited to in-school only. They move beyond in-school to before and after school as well.

The health of undergraduates has declined over the years. Research has shown very little improvement over the past couple of years.


1.3 Research Questions

Based on the statement of problem, the researcher seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What roles does nutrition play in the general well-being of undergraduates?
  2. What nutritional problems are most common among undergraduates?
  3. What factors affect the nutritional level of undergraduates?
  4. What should constitute the diets of undergraduates?
  5. What suggestions does the literature provide for undergraduates to eat healthy for optimal well-being?

1.4 Purpose of the Study

The objectives of this study are:

  1. To find out the various roles nutrition has to play in the general well-being of undergraduates.
  2. To discover what factors will either favour or/and adversely affect the nutritional status of undergraduates.
  3. To find out the problems associated with improper nutrition.
  4. To determine how much knowledge undergraduates possess about nutrition and how it affects their well-being.
  5. To investigate the roles undergraduates have to play in their general well-being in terms of food habits.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The essence of this study is to make available useful information on proper nutrition to parents, educators, school officials and students themselves. Educators can become more aware of the nutritional problems surrounding the health of their students and implement better practices during school sessions. Parents can take this information, and implement and provide healthier food options at home during and after the school year ends. School officials can implement programs and adopt school-wide programs that will benefit the overall health of their students. Students can learn food habits that will contribute to their wellness and development.


1.6 Scope of Study

This study was designed to reach as many undergraduates as possible. However, due to financial constraints, limited time and accessibility, it was restricted to undergraduates in the University of Benin, Benin-City, Edo State, Nigeria.


1.7 Limitations

Major limiting factors of this research project include:

Inability of the researcher to lay her hands on printed literature resources as either books on this topic are unavailable in the library or they are outdated i.e. they are not recent publications.

Articles found in various electronic search engines were used if they were available on-line. All online resources are not as durable as literature resources available from the library.

Limited time made the researcher settle for the use of a small sample size; it led the researcher to a restricted geographical coverage of undergraduates in the University of Benin only.

Insufficient funds led to a production of a limited number of questionnaires. The epileptic nature of electric power supply was also a challenge.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Nutrition:

The intake of food considered in relation to your body’s dietary needs.

Undergraduate:

A university student who has not yet taken a first degree.

Well-Being:

A good, healthy or comfortable state.

Food Habits:

The behaviour acquired by people towards food. This includes frequency and pattern of eating.

Nutrients:

Food substances providing nourishments.

Food Guide Pyramid:

A guide for achieving the nutrients needed for optimal growth and healthy weights.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary, conclusion and recommendations for further studies based on the findings of this research.


5.2 Summary

This study was carried out to examine the role of nutrition in the well-being of undergraduates in Nigeria with a particular focus to University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State. To achieve this ultimate goal, the study revealed that:
In table 2, it was observed that 50 of the respondents representing 56% indicated “Strongly Agree” that nutrition play a significant role in the general well-being of undergraduates while 20(22%) respondents pointed “Agree” and 10 (11%) pointed undecided and other 3(3%)of the respondents opted “Disagree”. On the other hand, 7 respondents representing 8% asserted Strongly Disagree on the question. Therefore, the analysis deduced that nutrition play a significant role in the general well-being of undergraduates.

In table 3, it was revealed that that 45(50%) of the total respondents pointed “Strongly Agree” and 20 of the respondents representing 22% opted “Agree” while 8 (9%) indicated “Undecided” and “Disagree” respectively. Also 9(10%) respondents asserted “Strongly Disagree”. From the analysis, it was induced that there are nutritional problems faced by undergraduates in Nigeria.

In table 4, it was discovered that that 20(22%) of the respondents that indicated “Strongly Agree”, and 53(59%) respondents pointed “Agree” while another 2 respondents representing 2% asserted “Undecided”. Also 10 (11) Disagree and another 5 (6) of the respondents asserted Strongly Disagree on the question. Therefore, the analysis induced that there are factors that affect the nutritional level of undergraduates.


5.3 Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study and subsequent recommendations, it is concluded that the prevalence of underweight is higher than the overweight or obese. Majority of the student in this study were deficient in their energy intake. The student were also lacking in fat, calcium and iron intake. Students tend to skip their breakfast intake and their fruit and vegetable consumption was also low. Many students usually consume fast food several times in a week. Educational campaign regarding healthier food choices, lifestyle and weight management could make a positive impact on the health of the university student.


5.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the researcher made the following recommendations:

  1. The nutrition interventions should focus on increasing personal valuation of health and nutrition.
  2. Foods eaten daily should come from variety of food in order to obtain a healthy and balanced diet.
  3. It is also needs to including identifying the magnitude of the potential nutritional risks associated with skipping main meal intake by the students.
  4. Fast foods are quickly prepared and people can afford it since the priced is reasonable. The university students should make used of fast food since they do not have much time to prepared food at home.

The Role Of Nutrition In The Well-Being Of Undergraduates


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