DAILY MEAL FREQUENCY OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM LJUBLJANA IN RELATION TO SOME OF THEIR OTHER NUTRITIONAL AND LIFE-STYLE CHARACTERISTICS AND BODY MASS INDEX – PRELIMINARY RESULTS
Background. The recommended number of daily meals is three to five. The aim of this study was to establish the number of meals, daily consumed by secondary school students from Ljubljana, and the relationship with nutritional and other habits, including bad habits, demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the secondary school students and their body mass index.
Methods. In 1999, an cross-section epidemiological study was performed on a proportional sample of 296 pupils attending the third class of Ljubljana secondary schools. The applied dietary data collection methods were the survey and the 24-hour dietary recall. The body mass index was calculated on the basis of the measured body height and body mass values. The Chi-square test, t-test, variance analysis and the multivariant linear regression method were used for the analysis.
Results. The students consume 3.16 meals per day on average (boys 3.44, girls 2.87). The students who reported a smaller number of meals per day consume statistically significantly less fruit, vegetables, milk, milk products and fish. They take hot meals less frequently, consume less often all daily meals, their daily meals are of a poorer quality in respect to their composition, they eat less often their meals in a sitting position, they feel a greater difference in diet between working week days and weekends, their regular nourishment is more influenced by school obligations, they have poorer knowledge of healthy dietary practices, smoke more often, are less satisfied with their weight, are less physically active and girls sleep less at nights. The inverse proportional relationship between the number of daily meals and the body mass index was not statistically significant. The multivariant linear regression model explained the low variance percentage (R2 = 0.28).
Conclusions. The average number of daily meals consumed by schoolboys is at the lower border of recommendations, while the average number of daily meals consumed by schoolgirls is inconsistent with the recommendations. The research variables are related to the number of daily meals, though they explain only a small part of the variance in the number of meals.
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