Determining the contribution of lunchbox content to the dietary intake of girls (13-18 years old) in a high school in Lindelani
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There is lack of data on the dietary intake and patterns of Lindelani adolescents, which necessitates comprehensive nutritional assessment. Objectives: The objectives were to investigate the dietary intake and nutritional analysis of lunchbox contents of high school girls (13 -18 years of age) in Lindelani and evaluate its contribution to their dietary intake. Methodology: The study was of a descriptive nature with an analytical component, a convenience sample of 61 learners who brought lunchboxes from home and completed a socio- demographic questionnaire, QFFQ and two 24- hour recall questionnaire used for evaluation of their dietary intake. Anthropometric measurements, including body composition, were performed. Anthropometric data were captured on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and displayed on WHO growth charts to determine stunting, wasting, underweight and over-weight. . Lunchboxes were required and collected without informing participants to avoid bias, each lunch box was weighed and the content recorded and analysed using Food Finder 3 computer software program. It was analysed by selecting the mean intake of the group and comparing it to the Daily Recommended Intake (DRIs) for this group of individuals. Results: The results indicated that the food group most commonly consumed was carbohydrates. The lunchbox mean energy content was 90.14 kJ (>100% of DRIs) which is a big portion for a lunchbox since there are other meals of the day to be eaten too. The mean intake of fruit portion consumed was 135g which was only consumed by 1% in the top 20 food items compared to 141.82g consumed by 18% in 24- hour recall. Bread, margarine and polony were commonly consumed in QFFQ, Lunchboxes and 24- hour recall. Fat consumption for lunchboxes was 34.04% higher than the WHO nutrient intake goal which put these teenagers at risk of overweight. Fruit and vegetable intake was 106.95g (QFFQ), 107.27g (24-hour recall) and 109.49g (mean lunchbox content). This indicates poor intake of fruit and vegetables, being far lower than WHO recommendation of 400g per day. Dietary fibre was also found below 25g. Conclusion: Although the group seemed to consume all the nutrients but it is a small sample of the population. The study indicated that the majority of the respondents consume mostly IVcarbohydrate diets and the lunchboxes did not meet the basic requirements of a balanced diet. The lunchboxes contributed on average one third of the girl’s daily food intake.