Does the Type of Food Consumed Contribute to GI Symptoms at Hostels? A Review at Karunya University

By Dr. J. Gnanaraj, Mrs. Barzilla RNRM, and Ms. Selva Rathi (Associate Professor of Mathematics)


Gastroenteritis_virusesGastroenteritis is an infection of the intestines that causes diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The incidence of gastroenteritis has been steady for decades, but mortality due to diarrhea has declined (4). Admissions for diarrhoeal disorders account for about 1.5 to 4% of all adult admissions in India (1). We looked at the data from our hospital for the Karunya University staff and students to see if there is any correlation between the patients’ diet types (vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian), and the gastrointestinal symptoms. This was determined by looking at the number of students admitted either as day-care patients or regular inpatients.


The data of Karunya University students admitted to the SEESHA Karunya Community hospital during the last 5 years (2010 to 2014) were analyzed. All patients admitted with gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal discomfort either as day-care admission or regular admission were included.


The following tables give the results.

Tables 1 & 2: Average No. of students affected by gastrointestinal symptoms every year, by day of the week

Days Following a Non-Vegetarian Diet
Non-Vegetarian Diet

Days Following a Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarian Diet

Average number of students per year = 4,670

On average, there were 173 admissions following a non-vegetarian diet that was served 4 days a week and 71 admissions following a vegetarian diet that was served 3 days a week at the hostels. Statistical analysis (t-test) shows that there is a statistically significant difference (p = 0.0211 <0.05) between the two groups. The assumption is that all students are eating at the hostel and not at the eateries that are outside.

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