The rapid changes in eating habits and lifestyles in Kenya have resulted to the overweight/obesity transition. Students are likely to make poor food choices which may affect their nutrition status during the beginning of college and this may continue throughout their life. This study aimed to establish the dietary practices, assess nutrition status based on body mass index and the relationship between selected dietary practices and nutrition status of female undergraduate students at Kenyatta University, Kenya.
Methods The study adopted a cross-sectional analytical design involving sample of 422 female undergraduate students randomly selected from Kenyatta University. Food Frequency Questionnaire and the Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women were used to assess dietary practices. Weight and height were measured to assess the nutrition status of the female students.
The results showed that 64.0% of the participants had consumed ≥ 5 food groups while 36% had consumed <5 food groups over a period of 24 hours. In terms of nutrition status, 68.4% of the participants had normal BMI while 23.9% were overweight, 5.55% were underweight and 2.3% were obese. MDDS-W was significantly associated with nutrition status (p=0.044).
The results illustrated unhealthy eating habits and sub-optimal nutrition status among a significant number of the female students. Policy makers should scale up interventions that would help improve dietary practices of women of reproductive age particularly university students.