Prevalence, Reasons, and Perceived Effects of Khat Chewing Among Students of a College in Gondar Town, Northwestern Ethiopia: A Cross‑sectional Study

Author(s): Teni FS*, Surur AS, Hailemariam A, Aye A, Mitiku G, Gurmu AE and Tessema B

Background: The estimate of the number of people chewing Khat globally ranges from 5 to 10 million people. Its use may result in a variety of effects due to the different compounds in it with effects on the gastro‑intestinal system and nervous system being the principal ones. Aim: To assess the prevalence, factors, and effects of Khat chewing among students of a college in Gondar town, northwestern Ethiopia. Subjects and Methods: An institution‑based cross‑sectional study was conducted from 15th to 20th of April 2009 on a total sample of 424 students who were selected using stratified random sampling technique. Data were collected by three of the principal investigators using a structured pretested data collection instrument and analyzed by Epi Info version 3.5.2. Results: The lifetime and current prevalence of Khat chewing among the respondents were 42% (168/400) and 32.5% (130/400), respectively. Sex (P < 0.01), religion (P < 0.001), and income (P < 0.01) showed statistically significant variation in Khat chewing. The commonest frequency of Khat chewing was once a day 33.1% (43/130) while alcohol (40.8% [53/130]) and cigarette (40.0% [52/130]) were the mostly used substances with Khat. More than half of the chewers (53.85% [70/130]) reported spending 1–4 h for one Khat chewing ceremony. Financially majority of the chewers reported spending up to 10 Ethiopian Birr (ETB) (1.13 United States Dollar) on Khat ( 54.6% [71/130]) and other substances (64.6% [84/130]). Nearly two‑thirds (62.3% [81/130]) of the chewers mentioned seeking concentration during study as their main reason for chewing. Among chewers, 83.1% (108/130) reported they faced problem associated to sleep disturbance, 82.3% (107/130) loss of appetite, and 80.8% (105/130) constipation. Conclusion: The prevalence of Khat chewing was fairly high among the students and the majority among them used other substances together with Khat. Spending of a significant amount of money and facing health problems were reported to be consequences of the habit. The college should take steps to make students aware of the ills of Khat chewing and associated habits.


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