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Assessment of Nutritional Status of Selected Women Lecturers in Chennai


Danya T V* and Kaveri R**

Abstract: Adulthood presents challenges for women. Balancing roles of career and motherhood in
adulthood can be extremely stressful. Better health and nutritional status are considered as an
agent for basic change in the status of women. Good nutritional status is the fundamental basic
requirement for positive health, functional efficiency and productivity. The nutritional
assessment of women lecturers was conducted in a selected college, Queen Mary's College at
Chennai, where 100 women lecturers of various age groups were chosen. The food
consumption of the subjects was assessed using food frequency questionnaire. Recording of the
anthropometric measurements and physical efficiency index using Harvard's step test were also
done. Among the selected women lecturers,57 per cent belonged to the age group of 25-40
years while the other half (43 per cent) belonged to the age group of 40 to 55 years. The results
revealed that the subjects suffered from health problems like short sightedness, back pain,
breathing problem, anemia and joint pain. Dietary practices among the subjects depicted that
the subjects had the habit of skipping breakfast occasionally. There was no significant
difference between age and frequency of consumption of various food groups of the subjects.
There was no significant difference in the anthropometric profile and dietary pattern of the
subjects. There was no significant difference in anthropometric profile and physical endurance
index of subjects having different food habits. Among the subjects, majority of them were
overweight. There was no significant difference in anthropometric profile of lecturers of the
two age groups. All the subjects had excellent physical endurance index. There was better dual
role adjustment characteristic among the subjects.

* M.Sc., Foods and Nutrition Student, Queen Mary's College. Chennai

** Associate professor. Department of Home Science, Queen Mary's College, Chennai


Women play a vital role in the health of a nation. An adult woman will contribute to a society
in many ways. She is the corner stone around which a family would be built. Women's health and
nutritional status is inextricably bound with social, cultural and economic factors that influence all
aspects of their 1ives (Mondal. 2003).

Women's bodies change dramatically over the course of a lifetime and nutritional needs change as
well. During adulthood, though there is no apparent growth, the breakdown and repair of the body
tissues goes on continuously. Proper nutrition in adulthood ensures good health right until old age.
Various factors like age, sex, activity, body weight, height and composition affect nutrient
requirements. Recent advances point to the far reaching effects of good nutrition on prevention of
degenerative diseases in late adult life.
The goals of nutritional assessment are to identify those who require aggressive nutritional
support to restore and maintain nutritional status, to identify appropriate medical nutrition
therapies and to monitor their efficiency (Kathleen, 1998).
Hence the study on nutritional assessment of selected women lecturers was conducted with the
objectives of learning their dietary practices, anthropometric profile, dual adjustment role, success
scale and physical efficiency.

Materials and Methods:

The present study was conducted in a selected college, Queen Mary's College at Chennai. 100
women lecturers of varying ages were selected by convenience sampling. The study involved ex-
post facto research. Tools used for the study were Questionnaire, Anthropometric measurements
like height, weight, midarm circumference, waist and hip circumference (NIN,2000), Food
Frequency Questionnaire (Shils etal,1994) and Harwards step test for physical
endurance(Barteck,2001). The results of the study are summarised as follows.

Results and discussion:
The major findings of the study are presented in tables I to 8 and the results are discussed
Table – I
Prevalence of health problems among the selected women lectures
Health problems percentage(N=100)
short sightedness 30
Long sightedness 11
Diabetes 7
Spondylitis 0
Peptic Ulcer 17
Back Pain 59
Varicose Vain 14
Arthritis 3
Breathing Problem 25
Anaemia 25
Joint Pain 41
Indigestion 12
Nervousness 15
Numbness 4
Giddiness 11
Frequent Urination at Night 13
High blood pressure 12
Low Blood Pressure 18

A majority (59 per cent) of the selected women lecturers had back pain and while 25 per cent
of the respondents had breathing problems and anemia. Among the selected women lecturers 30 percent
of them had short sightedness while 11 per cent had long sightedness. None of the subjects had
spondylitis. Seven percent of the subjects had diabetes only three per cent had arthritis and four percent
suffered from numbness. Most of the selected subjects (41 per cent) were found to have joint pain. A
small percent among the selected subjects were found to have peptic ulcer (17 per cent), varicose vein
(14 'per cent), indigestion (12 per cent), nervousness (15 per cent) and giddiness (II per cent). Twelve
per cent of the selected women lecturers had high blood pressure and 18 per cent had low blood
Regarding meal pattern, majority (71 percent) of the subjects consumed three meals a day
while eight percent and 21 percent had only two meals and four meals a day respectively. Among the
selected subjects 80 percent of them were non vegetarians while four percent, 11 percent and five
percent were lacto vegetarians, lactoovo vegetarians and vegans respectively.

Table - 2
Percentage distribution of lecturers as per the habit of skipping meals.

Skipping Skipping
Type of meal Never
regularly Occasionally
Break fast 6 59 35
Lunch 5 3 92
Tea 7 20 73
Dinner 5 4 91
Although majority of the subjects did not skip their meals, five to seven per cent
were found to skip their breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner regularly. Among the subjects, 59
per cent revealed the habit of skipping their breakfast occasionally.

Table - 3
Comparison of consumption of various foods with the two age groups of selected
Food Groups Age N Mean (g) S.D. (g) t value
Cereals 25-40 57 23.5789 3.1956 0.402NS
40-55 43 23.8837 4.3872
Pulses 25-40 57 28.4561 6.1964 0.536NS
40-55 43 29.0698 4.86677
Leafy Vegetables 25-40 57 27.6667 4.59166 1.815NS
40-55 43 29.8940 7.20534
Roots and tubers 25-40 57 20.1754 4.74764 1.496NS
40-55 43 21.8372 6.36183
Other Vegetables 25-40 57 35.3571 10.2415 0.377NS
40-55 43 34.6074 9.29193
Green leafy Vegetables 25-40 57 12.9123 3.20870 0.259NS
40-55 43 12.7442 3.22264
Fruits 25-40 57 42.7895 8.08380 0.754NS
40-55 43 44.0000 7.77358
Fish and meat products 25-40 57 6.6316 3.53872 0.575NS
40-55 43 7.0465 3.61184
Miscellaneous 25-40 57 14.0526 3.59782 1.880NS
40-55 43 15.4884 4.04953

There was no significant difference between the inclusion of various food groups in
the diets and the age groups of the subjects. This shows the fact that age may
not be a factor in adulthood to alter the inclusion of foods in one’s diet.

Table 4

Percentage distribution of the subjects according to the

factors affecting food intake/dietary pattern
Factors Percentage
Increases food intake Decrease food intake
Self cooking 36.0 64.0
Too much of family responsibilities 3.0 97.0
Taking care of old parents 1.0 99.0
Frequent illness of self - 100
Lack of interest in foods 1.0 99.0
Taking care of children 17.0 83.0
Weakness 11.0 89.0
Poor appetite 1.0 99.0
Lack of rest 1.0 99.0
Pressure of academic performance 1.0 99.0
Pregnancy 53.0 47.0
Unhappy situation prevailing in the - 100

Majority of the subjects claimed that self cooking, varying family responsibilities, weakness
and pressure of academic performance decreased their food intake and pregnancy
increased their food intake.

Table -5

Percentage distribution of the selected lecturers according to anthropometric indices

Variables Nutritional Status Percent N=100

Body mass index
18.5-25 Good 24.0
25-30 Over weight 69.0
>30 Obesity 7.0
Waist Hip Ratio:
<0.85 Good 54.0
0.86-1.0 Obesity 46.0

A majority of 69 per cent who had BMI ranging between 25 - 30 were found to be
overweight while 24 per cent of the subjects who had BMI ranging between 18.5 - 25, were
considered to be normal. Only seven per cent among the subjects who had values of BMI more than
30 were found to be obese.
In relation to the waist-hip ratio 54 per cent had less than 0.85 and 46 per cent had above
0.86. As per W -H ratio 46 per cent were found to be obese.

Table - 6

Dual role adjustment / career success scale scores and the physical
endurance index of the selected lecturers according to age groups

Variables Age in N Mean Standard ‘t’

years score Deviation Values
Dual role 25-40 57 90.70 9.763 0.467NS
adjustment 40-55 43 91.70 11.534
Career 25-40 57 61.60 5.227 0.096NS
Success 40-55 43 61.70 5.189
Physical 25-40 57 100.079 5.54 0.809NS
enduran 40-55 43 100.984 5.53
ce Index

Ns- Non Significant

Table 6 revealed that there was no significant difference between age and dual role
adjustments. There was also no significant difference between the age and career success
score and physical endurance. These results ascertain that age does not affect the dual role
adjustment, career success and physical efficiency. The physical efficiency of the selected
lecturers was found to be excellent irrespective of their age.

Table -7

Summary of ANOV A of the dietary pattern of the subjects according to body mass
index, waist-hip ratio, mid upper arm circumference and physical endurance

Variable Source of variation Sum of Df Mean F Significance

squares Square
BMI Between groups 2.525 2 1.263 0.331 0.719NS
Within groups 369.715 97 3.811
Total 372.240 99
W/H Between groups 0.007 2 0.003 0.973 0.382NS
Within groups 0.334 97 0.003
Total 0.340 99
MUAC Between groups 3.431 2 1.716 0.276 0.759NS
Within groups 602.409 97 6.210
Total 605.840 99
Physical Between groups 31.471 2 15.736 0.510 0.602NS
endurance Within groups 2994.226 97 30.868
index Total 3025.698 99

Ns - Non significant

It is distinctly revealed that there was no significant difference in body mass index. waist-hip
ratio, mid arm circumference, and physical endurance index based on dietary pattern. This showed that
though the subjects had different dietary pattern, they might have followed healthy lifestyle to maintain
physical health.

Table - 8
Summary of ANOVA on the food habits of selected women lecturers according to
anthropometric profile and physical efficiency index

Variables Sources of variation Sum of Df Mean F Significance

squares square
Weight Between groups 29.854 3 9.951 0.238 0.870NS
Within groups 4020.386 96 41.879
Total 4050.240 99
BMI Between groups 0.893 3 0.298 0.077 0.972NS
Within groups 371.347 96 3.868
Total 372.240 99
W/H Between groups 0.009 3 0.003 0.852 0.469NS
Within groups 0.331 96 0.003
Total 0.340 99
MUAC Between groups 13.690 3 4.563 0.740 0.531NS
Within groups 592.150 96 6.168
Total 605.840 99
Physical Between groups 13.679 3 4.560 0.145 0.932NS
endurance Within groups 3012.019 96 31.375
index Total 3025.698 99

Ns - Non significant

From the 'F' values in table 8 it is inferred that there was no significant difference observed in
weight. BMI. waist-hip ratio, mid upper arm circumference and physical endurance index of the
selected subjects having different food habits.

Women face threat to their health, safety and well being in different occupations in addition to
that experienced by being a woman. Women workers are more prone to morbidity because their
household traditional job of 'looking after' the family makes them work in "double shifts". It can be
concluded from the results of the study that majority of the selected lecturers were overweight based on
their BMI. The age and body mass index of the selected lecturers did not affect their physical
efficiency. There was good dual role adjustment and career success among the selected lecturers.


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