Bad eating habits related to bad knowledge

A balanced and diversified diet allows the harmonious development of the body and maintaining good health, leading to the prevention of certain chronic diseases. Bad eating habits continue, however, to spread around the world and especially in Morocco, where the change in lifestyle of the population inevitably leads to a nutritional transition. But as Moroccans adopt a traditional diet, based on cereals and legumes, vegetables and fruits, it is clear that they are gradually moving towards a diet that includes more animal products.

As nutrition is a priority in public health, eight Moroccan researchers at Hassan II University in Casablanca are looking into the matter by conducting a study. They assessed knowledge of nutritional recommendations for certain major foods, in order to determine the factors associated with the food practices and knowledge of the adult population of the city of Casablanca.

To this end, they conducted a survey of 731 participants in the white capital. Data collected using a questionnaire containing sociodemographic characteristics, food frequency, and questions to assess nutritional knowledge. L’échantillon aléatoire et exhaustif was based on the 2014 national census and data provided by the Haut-commissariat au Plan (HCP). The general characteristics of the sample of the studied population showed that out of the 719 subjects, 373 (51.9%) were men and 346 (48.1%) were women. In addition, the overall prevalence of overweight and obesity was 29.6% and 21.0%, respectively. The researchers add that obesity was much higher in women than in men (35.0% vs. 8.0%).

Sensitizer for the development of solid nutritional knowledge

It follows that there is a “close” link between a bad knowledge and a bad eating habit. “Individuals who did not consume in accordance with nutritional recommendations, including red meat, chicken and fish, reported erroneous opinions about these recommendations,” the study said, published on June 21 in the journal Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. “Adjustment by a number of sociodemographic variables shows that this was observed regardless of the age” of the respondents, the same source continues.

„One of the main causes of nutritional problems is the lack of nutritional knowledge leading to poor eating behavior. Knowledge is a necessary factor for changing and improving eating behavior and, consequently, building a healthy diet to prevent disease, “recall the researchers. For the latter, “nutrition education can improve nutritional knowledge and practices.”

„Studies that assess knowledge and its associations with eating behaviors or attitudes can contribute to an analysis of the situation by helping to determine existing knowledge, attitudes and habits about nutrition, in order to better understand how people eat and other factors that may influence their eating habits. It is therefore possible to provide useful information and contribute to the effective planning of targeted nutrition programs and projects, ”the study adds.

Its authors believe that “positively influencing the nutritional intake and promotion of healthy habits is a challenge for developing and developing countries.” “Our results showed an association between poor nutritional knowledge and poor eating habits, subsequently suggesting that the study population should benefit from educational interventions and awareness campaigns for the development of strong nutritional knowledge,” they argue. “Knowledge cannot be considered alone, but it is certainly one of the very important factors that influence nutrition,” they conclude.

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