Nutritional Assessment is a detailed evaluation of objective as well as subjective data, relating to an individual's food intake, along with giving due consideration to factors such as medical history and lifestyle of the said individual. The purpose of a nutritional assessment is to identify the malnourishment and/or undernourishment in an individual's diet and to eradicate the factors that make it unhealthy and unfit. Once the data relating an individual's eating habits has been collected and organized, it can be used to evaluate the nutritional status of that person. The assessment is followed up by a plan to either intervene or to devise a new proper nutritious diet plan to help the individual attain a healthier status (Carol Rees Parrish, August 2003).
In keeping up with the current obesity and overweight statistics, the need for a balanced nutrition profile has increased tenfold. Australia today is ranked as one of the fattest nations of the developed world with over 17 million obese people (Institute M.O., June 2012).
This further necessitates the development of a balanced and complete diet and a nutritious lifestyle. The benefits of having a nutritious, healthy, and wholesome lifestyle are numerous. These include, prevention of obesity, controlled blood pressure, fuller-functioning limbs and joints due to reduced pressure placed on them and reduced risk of contracting heart diseases. The NHLBI outlines that a well-balanced diet plan is one that provides nutrients and just enough calories required to be energetic throughout the day and result in no or minimal weight gain in comparison (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The NHLBI has listed out the health issues that can concern an overweight / obese individual. These feature coronary heart disease (CHD), Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, hypertension or high blood pressure, dyslipidemia or high triglycerides or cholesterol, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis and gynecological problems.
Hence, The Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating have been developed to ensure that healthy and balanced eating is the goal of each individual hoping to avoid diet-related chronic diseases that have been the source of many deaths in recent times and promote overall well-being and health of the Australian community.
A case study has been therefore undertaken to assess the eating habits of two different individuals of opposite genders, employed in contradicting professions in order to evaluate how their professions and lifestyles affect their choice of daily diet and consequently, their health and well-being.
The case study was based on the nutritional quality of the individuals' respective diets over a span of three days. This included two weekdays and a day from the weekend. These individuals, a male and a female, were required to note down their daily food intake that is normal or typical for them on such days before or after consuming it. They were not allowed to alter it however. The food intake includes all the meals, beverages, snacks, nibbles, bites and sips that had been taken by the individual during the days under observation. They were also required to be meticulous and detailed in jotting down even the specifics such as the portions size, the listing of ingredients in the meal and their amounts, list of condiments, the method of preparation of the snack or meal and the number of helpings. The difficulties encountered by the participants of this case study were those of human error and memory. At times the individual would forget to record their food intake before snacking or taking a nibble off of something. The quantification of the number of bites, sips and nibbles is difficult due to their nature of being so diminutive in comparison to meals and snacks. Also it is not in one's habit to note down such minute details of their eating behaviors. Another difficulty that hindered the individuals was that of the quantification of portions. While eating, one doesn't always measure how many milligrams are there in a mouthful or portion. Nor is there any absolute measure of such as it's purely a subjective matter that varies from person to person. For example, one portion may be 100 g for one but 500 g for another. It depends on the individuals, their habits and their appetites.
The scope of this investigation is limited to and relies solely on the information provided by the Individuals. The evaluation is on the basis of the individual information that the person himself/herself supplied. There was no check in place to ensure that parts of the information is accurate since the person may have altered some of the facts or misrepresented certain aspects of his/her eating behaviors.
Results and Nutritional Adequacy:
The evaluation of the nutritional adequacy of each individual's diets is performed using the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGTHE) consumer brochure (Ageing, 1998). One of the participants, to be referred to as Person A, is a male of age 34, with a height and weight of 164 cm and 85 kg respectfully. His calculated Body Mass Index (BMI) was 31, thus classifying him in the category of obese / overweight people. Person A is employed as a truck driver and his meals comprise mostly of takeaways, i.e, burgers, pizzas, shakes, sodas, chips, beer etc. The other participant, Person B, is a female of age 45, with a height and weight of 160 cm and 50 kg respectfully. She has been given a BMI of 19.5 classing her as a normal healthy individual. She works as a teacher for a living and her meals are mostly home-made. Person A followed the exercise and jotted down his food intake for three days. To summarize, in a time span of three days, he consumed no fruit, only one portion vegetable, very little water and other dairy products. On the other hand, he had plenty of meat, bacon and foods rich in margarine, oil and sauces, white bread, pastas and beer.
The other participant, Person B, is a female of age 45, with a height and weight of 160 cm and 50 kg respectfully. She has been given a BMI of 19.5 classing her as a normal healthy individual. She works as a teacher for a living and her meals are mostly home-made. Her three days food intake consisted of plentiful and a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with wholegrain, cereals and pasta. Her water intake was also high. She consumed almost no fruit juices or soft drinks. Did not snack much either. She kept also balance with a bit of meat, legumes, salmon and small of amounts of dairy products.
In line with our evaluation using AGTHE as basis, Person A is malnourished. His consumption of meat, oils and beer is exceptionally high, while there is zero fruit and vegetable intake and water consumption is negligible. He is also consuming a lot of extra foods such as margarine. In accordance to the AGTHE, males of ages ranging from 19-60 should cut down on the meat and oils. When it comes to meat, poultry, fish, eggs etc., males in this age bracket should have only one and a half to two serves in a week of this food group. They should gear up on the dairy products for the extra energy that they provide. Milk, yogurt and cheese should be consumed at 2-4 servings per week in order to remain healthy. The meals of such males should comprise of at least 6-8 serves of vegetables and 5-9 serves of bread, pasta, rice etc. Margarine should only be thinly applied if used on bread and minimally used in the preparation of food. The extra foods should be limited to 0-3 serves per week only. Water in all cases should be drunk in plentiful, whether male or female. The line of work person A is employed in is field work and requires him to drive a heavy vehicle all day. This requires him to have a lot of energy to spend and still have enough not to get exhausted at the end of the day. For this, he needs to consume more carbohydrates that are found in foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and other dairy products. Being a relatively young man at the age of 34, he requires a lot more energy and food in order to support his weight and extracurricular activities during the day than a female of the same age. Also, it can be seen that given his lifestyle, he hardly has time to prepare meals nor does he seem to have the adequate awareness of such things as diets plan and nutritious eating.
In contrast if we look at Person B, we shall see that she has maintained quite a balance in her eating habits. Being a teacher, hence well-educated, she is fully aware of nutrition rules and has plenty of time after work to prepare herself home-made meals full of energy. Her diet consists of plentiful of bread, pastas etc. However, this should be kept to 4-6…