Fruit and vegetable intake of students and prevalence of vegetarianism at Lakehead University / by Hesam Kooshesh.
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Purpose : The purpose of this study was to assess the daily intake levels of fruits and vegetables in a population of post-secondary students at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario [Northwestern Ontario] and to measure the prevalence rate of vegetarianism in this population. Methods: Food intake, demographic variables and vegetarian status were measured with a survey and food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) filled out by students who ate at the Aramark residence cafeteria of Lakehead University between Sunday February 1st and Saturday February 7th, 2009. Two hundred sixty-seven students participated, of which 197 were on the Aramark meal plan and therefore ate all of their meals at this cafeteria (response rate= 43.5% for this group). Results: Forty-three percent of the sample was female, with a mean age of 21 ± 3 years of age. Mean intake of fruits and vegetables was 5.0 ± 2.3 servings/day for females and 4.6 ±2.1 servings/day for males. Females ate significantly more vegetables than males (p < 0.01), Caucasians ate more fruits and vegetables than non-Caucasians (p < 0.01) and vegetarians ate more fruits and vegetables than non-vegetarians (p < 0.01). Within the sample, 6.7% (18/267) self-reported as vegetarian, with the majority being female (14/18) and ovo-lacto vegetarian (13/18). Conclusions : Fruit and vegetable intake in this population is below recommended levels and below the estimated national average for their age group. Males, non-vegetarians and non-Caucasians are at a particular risk of future health deficits due to insufficient fruit and vegetable intake. The prevalence of vegetarianism among Canadian post-secondary students may be higher than in the rest of Canada.