Mal J Nutr 23(1):43 - 52, 2017

Access to Healthy Foods and Indications of Food Insecurity among Private University Students in a Colombo Suburb, Sri Lanka
Deepika Priyadarshani WM*, Jayasekera JMTK, Gunasekara MA, Ariyathilaka SKL, Kosgahakumbura KNMHH & Thalangama TAKL


ABSTRACT

Introduction: The limited availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or inadequate accessibility to acquire foods can result in food insecurity. This study was conducted to investigate access and attitudes among private university students in a Colombo suburb, Sri Lanka to acquire healthy foods.
Methods: A self-administered pre-validated questionnaire was used to interview a total of 103 undergraduate students who were conveniently recruited from private universities. Indications of food insecurity were assessed in terms of dietary habits. Relationships between demographic characteristics and dietary habits were determined. Access to healthy foods was based on availability of healthy foods such as herbal porridge, boiled grains and fruit salads at their university premises, and the students’ willingness to buy them.
Results: The majority of the subjects were females (60.2%) and 66.7% of the subjects resided outside their family homes. Frequency of consuming at least one serving per week of grain, milk, fruits & vegetables showed no significant relationship with gender. Location of residence was significantly related to consumption of grains (P=<0.000). The results revealed that 73.1% of the subjects had no access to healthy foods in their respective university premises, while more than half (61.3%) were not satisfied with the foods they consumed.
Conclusion: This study revealed a lack of access to healthy foods in private higher educational premises in the Colombo suburb, indicating the risk of food insecurity among university students.

Keywords: Dietary habits, food insecurity, healthy foods, university students

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