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Evaluation of daily diet and energy consumption of foreign students during pandemic period

The health of the population largely depends on the structure of nutrition, knowledge and adherence to the rules of a balanced diet. It is known that the nutritional factor plays a key role in the prevention of not only various diseases, but also health disorders in conditions of self-isolation and quarantine[1]. The recent increase in morbidity among students is largely due to the deterioration of the socio-economic situation, which does not allow providing a part of this population group with high-quality and balanced nutrition[2].

As a result of insufficient motor activity in the body, neuro-reflex connections are disrupted, which leads to a disorder in the regulation of the activity of the cardiovascular, respiratory and other systems of the body, metabolic disorders and the development of degenerative diseases (atherosclerosis, etc.). The volume and intensity of physical activity is influenced by many factors, such as: the level of health, socio-economic situation, material and technical support, weather and climatic conditions and much more. Any movement and vital activity of the human body is interconnected with the costs and replenishment of energy resources spent on these actions[3].

Methods and structure of the study. We have analyzed the food rations and energy consumption of 117 boys and girls, 3 students studying at the international medical faculty of the South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, studied the content of basic nutrients, as well as vitamins, macro- and microelements.

The study involved 64 boys and 53 girls aged 19 to 26 years. To find out the actual nutrition of students, the method of evaluating the amount of food consumed during 5 days (without including the day off) was used by the subjects themselves. In a specially designed questionnaire, each subject wrote down what food he ate, estimated its amount in household measures of weight or volume, and then converted it into grams or milliliters. The information obtained has been processed statistically. The study took into account all possible types of physical activity in which energy was expended during the day: study; recreation; dream; physical education and sports, etc.

Results and discussion. The rhythm of student life does not always allow for a balanced diet. When assessing the diet of students, the following results were obtained: only 36% of the respondents eat at least three times a day, the majority of students (55%) have a frequency of at least two times, and 9% of respondents indicated one meal. Moreover, for the majority of respondents, the main meal in terms of volume and calorie content is in the evening.

Next, we found out the presence of basic essential foods in the weekly diet. Based on the survey results, we found that the majority of students include fresh vegetables and fruits in their diet daily or at least 3-4 times a week. When analyzing the frequency of consumption of dairy products, it was found: 1% of students do not include this group of products in the diet at all; extremely rare - 20%; 3-4 times a week –55% of respondents; and daily - 24%. Among the dairy products named, the most popular are milk (89% of students gave this answer), kefir, cottage cheese. According to the results of the survey, it was revealed that about 56% of students have no animal meat in their weekly diet. Only 19% of the respondents consume meat products every day. Quite often, poultry meat appears in the diet of students, namely chicken. It is extremely rare for students to consume fish and seafood, only 3.5% of respondents indicated the presence of this group of products in their weekly diet. 12% do not eat fish, and they do, but «extremely rarely» - 82%. In the diet of students, flour products in various forms are quite often found. 78.2% had a daily presence of this group of products, 20.6% had flour products 3-4 times a week. 1.2% of the respondents completely exclude flour products from their diet.

Analysis of the content of basic nutrients in actual diets revealed a pronounced deficiency of fats and protein (table 1), while the average values of carbohydrate consumption corresponded to the recommended standards. There was a deficit in the consumption of certain nutrients: protein - 21.2%, fat - 53%, carbohydrates - 23.1%. 13% of the energy value was satisfied due to proteins, due to fats - 20%, carbohydrates - 67%.

Table 1. Average supply of proteins, fats and carbohydrates of students' food rations




Proteins, g



Fat, g



Carbohydrates, g



Calorie content, kcal



However, when comparing the obtained results with the recommended norms of physiological requirements (RNP) in nutrients and energy of various groups of the population of the country, individual variability in the consumption of proteins, fats and carbohydrates was revealed.

Table 2. Average provision with vitamins of students' diets, mg

Vitamin content

Actual content in the daily diet

Physiological norms



















Table 3. Average provision of the diet of students with macro- and microelements, mg


Actual content in the daily diet

Physiological norms










When determining the content of macro and microelements in the diet of students, the following data were obtained. The average calcium content was about 1.3 times less than the recommended one. The content of iron in the diets exceeded the recommended values, and phosphorus - slightly differed from the recommended norms of the physiological need.

After processing the results obtained, the average data on the energy consumption of students during the day and their replenishment were obtained. Comparative analysis revealed that the highest energy consumption both on school days and on weekends are typical for girls. It should be noted that almost all the girls showed a noticeable deficiency in energy expenditure during the day, since the norm that ensures the full vital activity of the body is 2880–3840 kcal.

Girls, both on school days and on weekends, consume less kcal than they spend during the day. Negative tendencies were also revealed when analyzing data on energy consumption in young men. Students burn more calories during the day. This trend is observed both on weekends and on school days. All young men showed an excess of energy consumption over the replenishment of energy with food. To the already noted nutritional problems of students, it should be added that young men may eat worse due to the fact that they do not know how to cook a variety of foods. Evaluation of the diet of students revealed a number of facts that indicate serious problems in this area.

Conclusion. A deficiency in the content of basic nutrients, as well as many vitamins and minerals, is characteristic of the diets of foreign students studying at the medical faculty of the South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, in connection with which it is necessary to monitor the nutritional status of this category of student youth. The identified deficiencies and imbalances can be eliminated through the normalization of food rations in educational institutions, including fortification with vitamins and minerals of consumer foods available to foreign students and regularly used by them in their daily diet. This will certainly help to improve their mental and physical performance during the school year. The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the level of physical activity of student youth was revealed. Participants in the study reported a decrease in physical activity by an average of more than 1000 minutes per week during the pandemic. The most negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is on those students who were most physically active before the onset of the pandemic.

Thus, our research has shown that students are characterized by insufficient physical activity. In connection with the wrong daily routine, students develop an imbalance in metabolic processes in the body.


  1. Павлов Н.Н., Клещина Ю.В., Елисеев Ю.Ю. Оценка фактического питания и пищевого статуса современных детей и подростков. Курский научно‐практический вестник "Человек и его здоровье"2011; (1):128‐132.
  2. Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on university students' physical activity levels: An early systematic review / A. Lopez-Valenciano, D. Suarez-Iglesias, M. Sanchez-Lastra,
  3. Горелов А.А. Технология регулирования двигательной активности студентов в процессе повседневной и образовательной деятельности / А.А. Горелов, В.Л. Кондаков, А.Н. Усатов // Вестник спортивной науки: научно-теоретический журнал / ВНИИФК. –2010. – № 5. – С. 47-49.

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