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Healthy dietary habits, body mass index, and predictors among nursing students, northeast Thailand.

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Department of Community Nursing, School of Nursing, Kurume University, Japan.


This study aimed to assess body mass index (BMI) of nursing students, and examine the links between health behavior in terms of healthy dietary habits, positive health habits, dieting and BMI. A structured questionnaire was used for obtaining information on dietary habits, positive health habits, demographic characteristic including body weight, and height by administering self-answering questionnaires to all of nursing students in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year-classes of the College of Nursing located in northeast Thailand. Three hundred and eleven female nursing students with an average age of 19.9 (SD = 1.4), had an average BMI of 20.3 kg/m2 (SD = 1.9). Most of the subjects (82.6%) were in the acceptable weight category (BMI > 18.5-24.99 kg/m2), 5.1% underweight (BMI < or = 18.5 kg/m2), and 2.3% overweight. (BMI > or = 25.0 kg/m2). About half of them (50.8-66.2%) practiced healthy dietary habits in terms of avoiding eating fat/cholesterol, enriched fiber foods, while one-fourth practiced daily fruit consumption. Positive health habits in terms of having breakfast, and taking exercise over the last two weeks, were practiced by 49.5% and 59.8%, respectively. Persistent health problem occurred 13.5% amongst the subjects. The univariate analyses revealed significant associations between dieting with the BMI; perception of body size with the BMI; the enriched fiber food consumption with dieting; and the avoidance of fat/cholesterol with dieting. It suggests that the choice of food was predominantly attributable to dieting. Results from multiple logistic regression analysis showed that dietary belief, dieting, and exercise had effects on the strength of the association (p = 0.0191, 0.0024, 0.0165; Odds ratios = 0.97, 2.21, 1.87, respectively). The results and implications are discussed.

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