An investigation into the nutritional knowledge and dietary intakes of free sugars and dietary fibre among university students in the UK.
McGrath, K. (2017) An investigation into the nutritional knowledge and dietary intakes of free sugars and dietary fibre among university students in the UK., no. 94.
Background: Due to emerging evidence regarding the role of carbohydrates in cardio-metabolic, colo-rectal and oral health, the SACN report (2015) established new definitions and dietary recommendations for free sugars (5% total dietary energy) and dietary fibre (30g AOAC). The relationship between nutrition knowledge and dietary intake has received limited research attention. Particularly in students, who are a unique population. Health behaviours learned during this period may have a sustained impact on health in later life. Aim: The aims of this study were to investigate student's awareness of the SACN (2015) recommendations, assess knowledge and measure dietary intake of free sugars and dietary fibre and to explore the relationship between food knowledge and dietary intake. Methods: Students were recruited from a UK university population. Inclusion (students, males and females) and exclusion criteria (special diets or those studying or/with a nutritional qualification) was applied. 56 participants completed a nutrition knowledge questionnaire (cohort A), and 16 participants completed a nutrition knowledge questionnaire and an estimated 4-day diet diary. Statistical analysis was carried out using IBM SPSS. Results: Cohort A were unaware of the SACN recommendations for free sugars (96%) and dietary fibre (100%), although they scored well in the questionnaire (72.1% ± 12%). In cohort B, dietary intakes of free sugars (7.2% ± 5%) and dietary fibre (22.7g ± 7.9g) did not achieve SACN recommendations. The relationship was not statistically significant between nutrition knowledge and dietary intake of free sugars and dietary fibre in cohort B. Conclusion: Although the SACN report is a comprehensive review of the literature, the definitions and recommendations established in the report have not been communicated effectively to the UK student population. Therefore, promotion of healthy eating behaviours, which encompass the SACN recommendations, is needed to prevent the rise of obesity and future NCDs in this population.