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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 49-55

Nutrition and cancer prevention: An assessment of undergraduates' knowledge and nutritional practices

Department of Community Health, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Mr. M D Olodu
Department of Community Health, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njhs.njhs_7_21

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Context: Unhealthy eating habits combined with risky lifestyle behaviour developed early in life, may over a long time, increase the risk of developing a chronic non-communicable disease, such as cancer. The level of knowledge and understanding of cancer risk factors influences an individual's decision to adopt preventive measures. The assessment of this vital information has received much less attention among university undergraduates. Aim: This study assessed the nutrition knowledge of cancer prevention and nutritional practices of undergraduates. Settings and Design: The study was done in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, using a descriptive cross-sectional study design. Materials and Methods: A sample of 400 undergraduates completed the semi-structured self-administered questionnaire used for the study. Questions cover sociodemographic characteristics, nutrition knowledge of cancer prevention, nutritional practices and nutritional status of undergraduates. The resulting data were analysed using IBM SPSS (version 22). Results: The mean age standard deviation of the respondents was 20.7 (±2.5) years and were mostly (57.0%) in their 2nd year of the study. Half had good knowledge of foods that are protective against cancer; 61%–81% consumed whole grains, foods of animal origin and added salts thrice or more per week, whereas fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, were less consumed per week (25%–34%). Waist-hip-ratio revealed that 51% were at risk of malnutrition. There were statistically significant relationships between nutrition knowledge and intake of fruits, vegetable, foods of animal origin, coffee and physical exercise at P < 0.05. Conclusion: This study shows that the level of nutrition-related cancer prevention knowledge of the participants was average. Public health interventions should focus on the promotion of healthy nutritional practices and lifestyles in the population.

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