Background/Aims: Published literature suggests that nurses in New Zealand are more overweight than the general population. A lack of nutrition knowledge, social eating patterns and shift work are proposed to contribute to this. This study aimed to assess nutrition knowledge of undergraduate nursing students and to measure associations with demographics, lifestyle factors, health status and dietary patterns.
Methods: An observational study with a convenience sample of 103 first-year undergraduate nursing students recruited from two tertiary education institutions in the North Island, New Zealand. Data collection included anthropometry, blood lipids, glucose and HbA1c. Nutrition knowledge was tested using a 22-question nutritional literacy survey.
Results: No correlation was observed between anthropometry measures and total literacy score. Mean BMI value was 26.7 ± 6.3 (range 16.5 – 44.0) and approximately 60% of participants were either overweight or obese. The mean total correct nutritional literacy score was 56.7 ± 13.2%. Participants scored higher in food label and health-food claim questions (> 70% correct) and lower in general nutritional knowledge. The majority of participants were within normal limits on blood test results, although 5% had elevated HbA1c and one third had an elevated total cholesterol. Conclusions: Prevalence for obesity and overweight amongst nursing students exceeds that of the general female population and may explain the high overweight and obesity prevalence for registered nurses. Findings link risk for elevated BMI among first year nursing students with demographic and lifestyle factors rather than nutritional knowledge.
Funding Source: AUT and WIT Internal Grant Funding