• BERIVAN O. RASHID Lecturer, Community Medicine Dep, College of Medicine, University of Duhok, Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Keywords: Body mass index, Eating habits, Medical students


Background: Poor nutritional behavior is a major public health problem among young adults who experience the transition into university life, as this time is associated with unhealthy lifestyle characteristics. This study aimed to assess the pattern of eating habits among medical students, to increase their awareness of the food pyramid and encourage them to apply it and increase their awareness of the benefits of healthy eating for physical and mental health.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional faculty-based study conducted among 650 medical students of both genders in all six grades of the College of Medicine/ University of Duhok. The questionnaire was composed of close-ended questions on socio-demographics, eating habits, and knowledge assessment factors, as well as weight and height.  Body mass index (BMI) was used to assess students' weight status.

Results: The study revealed that 68.2% had normal BMI, 10.6% had low BMI, 16% had high BMI and 5.2% had very high BMI. A total of 64.5% had good knowledge of the food pyramid, while 56% did not know the required calories per day. Fifty-seven percent were on three meals daily and preferred homemade meals. Nearly three-quarters like fast food and crispy food. 50.3% used to skip breakfast. 45.4% used to eat an extra meal before sleeping time. 47.4% prefer salty food. 57.4% used to eat salads with meals and 84.8% eat fruits usually.

Conclusions: Many medical students of both genders have unhealthy dietary habits, in addition to insufficient knowledge of the food pyramid and required daily calories. Medical students need preuniversity and college-based plans and counseling on nutrition.


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