An investigation into the knowledge, understanding and dietary intakes of free sugar and dietary fibre among university students in the UK.
O''Hare, K. (2017) An investigation into the knowledge, understanding and dietary intakes of free sugar and dietary fibre among university students in the UK., no. 114.
Background: An unhealthy diet has is a preventable risk factor for CVD and T2DM. SACN (2015) found that a high sugar intake is associated with a higher risk of T2DM and a high fibre intake is associated with a lower risk of T2DM, CVD and colo-rectal cancer. Since this evidence, new recommendations have been made regarding sugar and fibre intakes in the UK. University students are a crucial group to target to encourage them to adopt healthy dietary practices and therefore help with disease prevention. The aim of this study is to measure the intake of free sugars and dietary fibre in a group of UK students and to assess their knowledge and understanding of free sugar and fibre and the new recommendations published by SACN Methods: Participants were divided into two cohorts. The DD cohort completed a 4-day diet diary alongside a nutrition knowledge questionnaire. The NKQ cohort completed the nutrition knowledge questionnaire only. Results: The mean 4-day free sugar and dietary fibre intake did not meet SACN's recommendations with an average intake of 7.2% ± 5.0% and 22.8g ± 7.9g, respectively. >90% of the participants had not heard of either of the recommendations by SACN. 96.4% of participants were aware of problems relating to a high sugar intake, but only 42.9% of participants were aware of health problems relating to a low fibre. Conclusions: The results show that university students are not meeting the dietary recommendations for free sugar or fibre. They are also unaware of SACN's recommendations on free sugar and dietary fibre. There appears to be better knowledge regarding sugar in comparison to dietary fibre amongst UK students. The results of this study show that more needs to be done in order to reduce intakes of free sugar and increase intakes of dietary fibre and to redress the balance between free sugar and fibre knowledge and awareness. Key words: Free sugar; dietary fibre; SACN; nutrition knowledge