Submitted to: Ecology of Food and Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2004
Publication Date: 4/20/2005
Citation: Nkungula, A., Harris, E.W. Foods frequently eaten by high school students in a density area in Zimbabwe. 2005. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 44:1-11. Interpretive Summary: The aim of this study was to assess the eating habits of high school students (N=94) in Zimbabwe. A food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was used which contains 82 foods categorized as grains; meat; legumes; milk; fruits and vegetables; snacks, fats and oils; and beverages. Food items also were in three languages (English, Shona, Ndebele). Differences were found between students who bought food at school and who brought the highest amount of money to school compared to students who did neither. Study findings highlight the influence of economics on the students' eating patterns and may be useful for nutrition policy and program planning.
Technical Abstract: A food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was administered to a convenience sample of students attending a high school located in a high density area in Harare. The FFQ contains a list of 82 foods based on the compilation of traditional and common foods in Zimbabwe (Chitsiku, 1991; Gomez, 2000). Food items are categorized into 7 groups: grains (cereals and starchy roots); meat (meat, fish, eggs, and insects); legumes (legumes and nuts); milk (milk and milk products); fruits and vegetables; other items including snacks, fats and oils; and 7) beverages. Food items were in the three main languages spoken in Zimbabwe (English, Shona, and Ndebele). Suggested serving sizes (small, medium, large) and frequency of consumption (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally) are indicated. The medium serving size of each food item also was defined on the FFQ. Student's t tests were used to test for differences in total foods reported due to gender, buy food at school, and bring food to school. A General Linear Model (GLM) was used to test for differences due to the amount of money reported and due to the combined variable for buy food and bring food. When differences were found, the Tukey multiple range test was used to determine which groups were different. A priori alpha 0.05 level of significance was used for all comparisons. Thirty eight female and Fifty six male high school students ranging in age 14-20 years old participated in the study. No significant differences were found by gender, by bring food to school, or by the combined variable for bring/buy. Differences were found for buy/not buy foods at school. Students who bought food at school consumed more food items and especially more beverages, grains, snacks, and milk items than students who did not buy food at school. Differences were found among students who brought money to school. Students who brought >75 Z to school a day consumed more food items and especially grains, snacks and fruits and vegetables than students who brought $0-25 Z to school.