Date of Award

11-19-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Dr. Murugi Ndirangu Ph.D - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Dan Benardot Ph.D - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Vijay Ganji Ph.D - Committee Member

Abstract

Background: Since the discovery of oil in 1962, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experienced far-reaching social and economic changes. As a result, the physical and social environment of the UAE is moving away from the traditional Bedouin lifestyle to one that is more westernized. Given this recent trend toward a westernized lifestyle, chronic diseases are becoming more prevalent, impacting the rates of chronic disease among children, adolescents, and young adults residing in the UAE as well. Null hypothesis 1: There is no association between the level of physical activity and overweight/obesity, and hypertension. Null hypothesis 2: There is no association between the frequency of fruit and vegetable intake and overweight/obesity, and hypertension. Null hypothesis 3: There is no association between smoking status and overweight/obesity, and hypertension. Objectives: • to assess the prevalence of fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity, smoking, overweight/obesity, and hypertension among Arab college students in the UAE; • to determine the associations between fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity, smoking, overweight/obesity, and hypertension Methods: Participants included men and women college students of Arab descent attending the American University of Sharjah, UAE. A questionnaire was used to assess demographics, tobacco use, physical activity, and diet of participants. A qualitative food frequency questionnaire was used to assess frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption, including fruit juice, fruit, lettuce, white potatoes, beans, tomato sauce, vegetable soup, and other vegetables. Height, weight, and blood pressure were measured and BMI was determined. Results: The study sample included 145 men (n=73) and women (n=72) age 18-25 years. The prevalence of smoking was higher among men compared to women (65.8% vs. 30.6%; p<0.001). The prevalence of physical activity was higher among men compared to women (84.9% vs. 55.6%; p<0.001). The prevalence of overweight was higher among men compared to women (31.5 vs. 16.7%; p=0.01). The prevalence of obesity was higher among men compared to women (11.0 vs. 2.8%; p=0.01). The prevalence of high blood pressure was higher among men compared to women (56.9 vs. 17.1%; p<0.001). Among men and women, the contribution of fruit juice to the total daily frequency of fruit consumption was 57%. Of the total study population, 25.2% reported a frequency of fruit and vegetable intake ≥ 5 times/day. For women, frequency of fruit and vegetable intake had a significant negative association with physical activity. Among men, fruit and vegetable intake ≥ 5 times/day was found to be negatively associated with hypertension. A positive association was found between BMI and hypertension for men. Conclusions: The results of the study uphold the hypothesis that fruit and vegetable intake is inversely associated with hypertension among men. Compared to women, men exhibited a greater prevalence of high blood pressure, smoking, overweight/obesity, and physical activity. Men and women did not differ in the frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption. For the total study population, fruit juice contributed to 57% of the total fruit daily fruit intake. Women who reported engaging in physical activity were more likely to report a frequency of consumption of fruits and vegetables < 5 times per day. 65.8% of men and 48.4% of the total study population reported smoking either cigarettes or sheesha. Smoking was found to be more prevalent among students reporting a country of origin in middle and low income categories. More information is needed on the energy intake of college-age Arab women and their exercise patterns to determine if an intervention is warranted to prevent disordered eating. More information is needed on the consumption of fruit juice among this population to determine if an intervention is needed to promote intake of whole fruits and vegetables to replace fruit juice consumption. Interventions that target smoking habits among Arab college students need to incorporate sheesha smoking, since this habit was found to be common among both men and women.

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