Malnutrition, in all its forms, is a problem of global proportions and requires urgent action. In many parts of the world, most adolescents receive inadequate nutrients needed to meet the body’s daily requirements in terms of quantity, frequency, and quality to survive, grow and develop to their full potential. Food systems are therefore important in addressing problems of malnutrition, food insecurity and diet-related health problems. This study profiled the dietary patterns and nutrient adequacy of youths (aged 15-24 years) in Ruaka and The Technical University of Kenya using demographic questionnaires, food frequency questionnaires and a 24-h recall method. The study found that 17.6% of males and 13.0% of females skip their breakfast at least thrice a week due to too much time spent watching TV at night and waking up very late hence only having morning or afternoon snacks. In addition, many did not consume foods from at least four essential food groups according to the 24-h recall method. Thus, there is a need to educate youths and the society at large about healthy dietary patterns and the need to include at least four essential food groups in their meals in order to gain essential nutrients (both macronutrients and micronutrients) for healthy growth and development.
Key words: Youth, diet, dietary pattern, fast foods, healthy eating habits, nutrition, malnutrition, food system.
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