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Open Access Research

Energy and macronutrient intake and dietary pattern among school children in Bahrain: a cross-sectional study

Nadia Gharib1* and Parveen Rasheed2

Author Affiliations

1 Nutrition Section/Ministry of Health, Manama, Bahrain

2 Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Dammam University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:62  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-62

Published: 5 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Obesity is increasing in Bahrain and there is lack of information on the energy and macronutrient intake of children. The objective of this research was to study the energy and macronutrient intake as well as food frequency pattern of Bahraini school children.

Methods

This is a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted on Bahraini school boys and girls aged 6-18 years from all the 11 populated regions of the country. Data on food intake consisted of a 24-hour dietary recall and was obtained by interviewing a sub-sample of the study population. Information was also obtained through a self-administered questionnaire for the entire sample on the weekly frequency of food items that were grouped into 7 categories based on similarity of nutrient profiles. Dietary analysis was performed using the Nutritionist 5 (First Data Bank Version 1.6 1998).

Results

While the average energy intake of students was close to the Estimated Average Requirements of the UK Reference standards, protein intake substantially exceeded the Reference Nutrient Intake values as did daily sugar consumption. Dietary fiber fell short of the Dietary Recommended Values (UK) and 36%-50% students exceeded the Energy % limits for total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. The Polyunsaturated: Saturated fat ratio remained at an unacceptable level of 0.6 for girls and boys. While sweets, snacks and regular soda drinks were popular, milk, fruits and vegetables were not commonly consumed.

Conclusions

High sugar consumption, low intake of dietary fiber and high energy % of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol by many Bahraini children, is likely to increase their risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases in later life. Nutrition education programs in schools should emphasize the importance of healthy balanced diets for growth and health maintenance of children as well as dietary prevention of diseases.

Keywords:
Energy and macronutrient intake; food frequency; energy % fat; saturated fat; overweight and obesity; Bahraini school children