Effect of healthy and unhealthy habits on obesity: a multicentric study

Our aim was to characterize and compare eating patterns of university students in Chile, by sex and body weight, body mass index, and nutritional status. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. University students (n = 1454) of Chile were evaluated. A self-assessment survey was used to evaluate healthy eating habits using a questionnaire with values between 1 (do not consume) and 5 (consume) for a total of 9 to 45 points (higher values represent better eating habits). Unhealthy habits were assessed with six questions, including consumption of sugary soft drinks, alcohol, fried foods, fast food, and snacks and adding salt to foods without tasting first. Results: Obese students had a lower consumption of healthy foods (P < 0.05) compared with normal weight participants. Underweight male participants had higher unhealthy food consumption (P < 0.05) and obese women had the lowest score (P < 0.05). Protective factors for being overweight/obese were included (odds ratio [OR] = 0.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.3–0.8), consumption of ≥2 servings of vegetables (OR = 0.5; 95% CI 0.4–0.7). Risk factors included consumption (more than 1 cup a day) of sugary soft drinks (OR = 1.5; 95% CI 1.0–2.1) and male sex (OR = 1.8; 95% CI 1.3–2.4). Conclusion: The consumption of vegetables and belonging to an undergraduate program in health sciences at a university contributed to protection against for obesity. On the other hand, male sex and consumption of sugary drinks were found to be risk factors for obesity

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