An Analysis of College Students’ Nutrition Practices

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Bell, Camryn
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Research Subject Categories::MEDICINE::Social medicine::Public health medicine research areas::Public health science , Students , Fast Foods , Feeding Behavior , Obesity
Poor nutrition is associated with half of the leading causes of death for adults and has influenced the alarming obesity rates. Negative nutrition practices and knowledge are at the forefront of this issue and are often developed earlier in individuals’ life. College is an important transition period for most individuals to develop habits, but it seems that unhealthy ones are being formed. Nutritional behavior in early adulthood often impacts the nutrition choices later in life, which then affects health. This study was conducted to better understand the nutrition practices of college students to help inform campus wide programming. This was a cross-sectional research design that involved 103 undergraduate students (mean age= 20.5, SD= ±3.6) at Lenoir-Rhyne University. A survey was sent out to all undergraduate students via their university email, and the data was gathered on Google forms. Microsoft Excel was used to formulate descriptive statistics on food habits, nutritional struggles, and nutrition attitudes. The majority of students eat their meals at home (36.9%), the school cafeteria (30.1%), and on and off campus fast food/restaurants (29.1%). The largest barrier for college students to eat healthy is time and availability of food, with money being the third highest barrier. When surveyed on struggling to afford food, 44.7% of the participants stated that they have. Analysis determined that there is not a significant difference (p=0.29) between gender and how healthy students view their eating habits as well as no correlation between skipping meals (5.18 ± 3.41) and GPA (3.52± 0.51). (r=0.20, p=0.10). University students are lacking in time and resources, which is contributing to poor nutritional practices. This research has gathered data on the food habits of college students and showed the areas where programming would be beneficial, like with targeted education and programs to address student food insecurity. Campus wide programming needs to be developed and implemented to help fill this need for young adults to positively influence their current and future health.