ANALYSIS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY STATES AND NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF STUDENTS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 7 AND 14

STRUCTURED ABSTRACT

The purpose of our study is to find out the nutritional habits and physical activity states of students between the ages of 7 and 14 attending primary and secondary education in the province of Sivas. A total of 662 students (320 females-342 males), 303 attending primary education and 359 attending secondary education, were given three different scales consisting of Nutritional Behavior Scale, Child Nutritional Self-efficacy Scale and Physical Activity Scale. The data obtained were analyzed with Spss 22 program by examining chi-square test and frequency distributions.

Growth is rapid in children who are in development age. Rapid growth causes an increase in nutrients and energy need. Individuals who do not have awareness of adequate nutrition will form a basis for diseases caused by bad habits in the future.  Food from different food groups should be consumed in all courses for adequate and balanced nutrition and to increase nutritional variation. Especially food containing fruit, vegetable and protein should be consumed every day and the consumption of food and drinks with low nutritional value and high energy value should be restricted. (Turkey Nutritional Report- 2015)

The goal of nutrition in school age group is providing normal healthy growth and development. Thanks to adequate and balanced nutrition, children can grow and develop expectedly and their resistance to diseases increases (Hasbay, 2004). In addition, significance of nutritional habits which start in chldhood is emphasized in bone development, increase in cognitive ability and school performance and in the prevention of some diseases which are seen in advanced age (Gökçay et al, 2002).

Nutrition in children should be organized according to child’s age, gender, body weight and physical activity. School age is the period in which the child enters social life consciously for the first time. While the family influences the child’s nutritional habits in the pre-school age, factors such as friends and advertisements come to the forefront in school age. As a result of not having control on nutrition at school and the child’s preparing food by himself/herself especially when the mother is working can cause the child to have incorrect nutritional habits. For this reason, it is important for the child, family and school management and teachers to be educated about nutrition so that the child receives adequate and balanced nutrition (MEB. Pre-School Nutrition (2011)

In a study conducted by Seong Ah Ha et al. in Korea in 2016, physical activity and nutritional self-efficacy were found to be significantly low (p<0,01)

In their study, Abusabha et al. (1997) emphasized that children with high self-efficacy perception had positive feelings that they could change their nutritional habits, that they could try enough to adapt to a new nutritional habit and that they could continue their positive feelings for a long time even when they experienced difficulties.

In Kübra K. et al’s study, students were found to have moderate levels of nutritional behaviors. Foods included in the scale used in the study are sauced, greasy, too salty and on the contrary foods such as salt-free, plain and natural food and when it is considered that the highest score is 14, average scores are really low and it has been concluded that although this age group had moderate nutritional habits, they tend to consume junk food in school cafeteria or at home. According to the results of nutritional behavior scale, 64,2% of the students were found to consume healthy food, while 35,8% were found to consume unhealthy food. Students’ nutrional self-efficacy scale score was found as +14. This score shows that the students have high level of self-efficacy. In a study conducted by Öztürk M. in 2010, it was found that students had an average self-efficacy score of 3,40 ± 4,90 (between -15 and 15). According to the assessment results of our study, it was found that students had a healthy diet and unlike previously conducted studies, their nutritional self-efficacy was higher. According to the results of our study, it is possible to say that most of our student groups had correct nutritional habits and had very good levels of nutritional self-efficacy.

In their study they conducted in (2004), Robinson and Thomas found that school age children defined their nutritional habits as well (explained variance: 45,5% in female students; % 49,6 in male students), while they defined their physical activity states as low (explained variance: 10,2%).

Physical activity is useful in terms of children’s health development. Regular physical activity can cause significant changes in healthy development and growth of children and adolescents, in getting away from bad habits, in socializing, in the protection of adults from various chronic diseases or in the treatment of these diseases or in supporting treatment, in enabling old people to have an active old age; in other words, it can create significant differences in terms of increasing life quality during the whole life. (Mendes et al. 2011)

In the study entitled “the influence of health education given to primary school students on nutritional behaviors and knowledge” conducted by Ulaş et al., significant difference was  found between intervention and control group in terms of vegetable, fruit, milk and dairy, meat, chicken, fish, eggs and in terms of nutritional knowledge (p<0.05). In their study, Yabancı and Pekcan (2010) found a significant association between physical activity and nutrition in adolescents.

In our study, 14.12% of the students who were given Physical Activity Questionnaire to find out physical activity levels were found to have an inactive (sedentary) lifestyle, while 38.93% were found to have a low level of active life, 36.26% were found to have a moderate level of active life, 8.4% were found to have an active life and 2.39% were found to have a very active life according to the results of physical activity questionnaire. Overall, we can say that students are active in low and moderate levels.

As a conclusion, it can be said that when studies and activities to be conducted to increase physical activity levels are merged with a healthy nutritional habit, health problems that can possibly occur in the future can be prevented. An early awareness of healthy aging will help other members of the family to be healthier and more active through appropriate interaction. A sufficient self-efficacy will cause an individual to analyze the environment he/she is in and make more correct decisions against negations that may occur. Awareness created in children on nutrition and physical activity will provide the basis for a society in which healthy individuals are majority in the future.

Keywords: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Obesity