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Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jan;51(1):46-53.

Eating habits, food and health related attitudes and beliefs reported by French students.

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Nutrition Department, INSERM U286, Faculté X. Bichat, Paris, France.



To assess eating habits and some food related behaviours, beliefs and knowledge in educated young French adults.


A standardized questionnaire administered in university classes.


University or 'Grandes Ecoles' of Paris and Dijon.


660 male and female French students.


International survey; questionnaire composed of three major sections: (1) Health-related attitudes such as substances used, dieting, health practices; (2) Beliefs concerning behaviour and health, including eating habits; (3) Knowledge, namely relevance of factors to diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases.


Gender, self-perception of body size, BMI and attempts to lose weight affected a number of behaviours. Average BMI corresponded to standard values. 'Healthy' behaviours were often reported such as: avoiding fat and cholesterol, efforts to eat fruit and fiber. The French students showed a low frequency of snacking and a high regularity in having breakfast, especially respondents with lower BMI (females < or = 23 and males < or = 24.5 kg/m2). Beliefs about the importance of behaviours were closely associated with the performance of the behaviours. Awareness of the role of eating factors in cardiovascular diseases was observed.


The meal and snack pattern in French students is very close to the traditional model. More food- and health-related behaviours and attitudes are reported by women than men. Some of them could be due to a genuine motivation for prevention and health in females or else to a greater wish to be thin. 'Desire to lose weight' is often reported although BMI values are normally low in this young population. Beliefs in the importance of a behaviour for health are correlated with the reported performance of the behaviours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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