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Nutr J. 2012 Jul 18;11:48. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-48.

Social and psychological factors affecting eating habits among university students in a Malaysian medical school: a cross-sectional study.

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  • 1Department of Community Medicine, International Medical School, Management and Science University (MSU), Off Persiaran Olahraga, Section 13, 40100, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.



Eating habits have been a major concern among university students as a determinant of health status. The aim of this study was to assess the pattern of eating habits and its associated social and psychological factors among medical students.


A cross sectional study was conducted among 132 medical students of pre-clinical phase at a Malaysian university. A self-administered questionnaire was used which included questions on socio-demography, anthropometry, eating habits and psychosocial factors.


Mean (± SD) age of the respondents was 22.7 (± 2.4) years and (the age) ranged from 18 to 30 years. More than half had regular meals and breakfast (57.6% &, 56.1% respectively). Majority (73.5%) consumed fruits less than three times per week, 51.5% had fried food twice or more a week and 59.8% drank water less than 2 liters daily. Eating habits score was significantly low among younger students (18-22 years), smokers, alcohol drinkers and those who did not exercise. (p<0.05). Four psychological factors out of six, were significantly associated with eating habits (p<0.05). In multivariate analysis, age and 'eating because of feeling happy' were significantly associated with eating habits score (p<0.05).


Most of the students in this study had healthy eating habits. Social and psychological factors were important determinants of eating habits among medical students.

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