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The causes effects and solutions to poor eating habits among college students

January 17th, 2018 Citation: College students eating habits and knowledge of nutritional requirements. J Nutr Hum Health. Students may have proficient knowledge regarding nutritional requirements; however, the transition to college life gives them more freedom to choose the type and the amount of food they eat. Most college campuses have dining facilities that provide a variety of food options, which can lead to establishing either good or bad eating behaviors.

This was a quantitative, cross-sectional study, with a descriptive design. The students are knowledgeable that consuming fast food, soda, and processed food are unhealthy and they contain additives. They indicated strong agreement to keep themselves hydrated and choosing food because of taste preference. Even though majority admitted eating fresh fruits, a significant number consume processed food such as chips, cookies, and cereal based on convenience.

Smartphone resources, vending machine use, and drinking soda were their least frequently used habits. Students have a fair knowledge of nutritional requirements for health; however, food choices they make are not necessarily healthy.

College students eating habits and knowledge of nutritional requirements

Convenience and taste of food were priority. Majority of undergraduate students eat at college dining facilities with limited healthy food options. Moreover, if students do not attain adequate nutrition daily, a decrease in academic or physical performance can result. Two research questions addressed were RQ1: Despite the strong emphasis on meeting nutritional requirements every day to achieve optimal health, many college students tend to care less about or neglect their nutritional requirements.

Many factors come in to play as they transition to college life. Many of them leave the parental home, adapt to social and environmental changes, acknowledge new financial responsibilities, build different social networks, and experience different time availability [ 2 ]. It is very beneficial for college students to formulize good eating habits that lead them to obtaining health and optimal function.

Background As individuals transition from home to college life, nutritional knowledge becomes more important because food options change and dietary challenges arise. Traditional oncampus students use college dining facilities to eat meals. Students have the liberty of choosing a variety of healthy and unhealthy food options. If college students are unaware of the nutritional requirements to maintain a healthy body weight, they can make poor nutritional decisions, which can cause poor weight management and health problems.

Establishing good eating habits during this time is critical, because these behaviors often continue through adulthood and can be very difficult to change once they are established. Educational interventions need to be addressed to help college students meet their daily nutritional requirements.

All the articles used for this study were published from 2012 to 2015. Most nutritional values such as protein, energy, carbohydrates, fats and most minerals can be obtained by food sources. However, some individuals take dietary supplements on a daily basis to ensure their nutrition level. The current college-aged group should have had education on nutrition back in elementary school via the Food Pyramid.

College students eating habits and knowledge of nutritional requirements

Also, since 2011, people have had access to MyPlate, which is a visual representation of nutrition requirements. Each nutrient plays an important role in establishing health, metabolism, and proper function of the body [ 1 ].

Even though many college-aged students are aware of the importance of meeting nutritional values, their knowledge and attitude might hinder them from changing their behavior. Stockton and Baker discovered college students do understand that consuming fast food can lead to disease; however, their knowledge was not a factor that influenced their food choices.

Interestingly, Stockton and Baker found that college students did not think the harm from fast food was related to calories but rather harmful chemicals and additives. The main concern the students had was not the number of calories they were taking, but the additives to their food.

Also, the male college students consumed more fast food than female college students. Students thought that hamburgers were not harmful to their health [ 3 ]. Eating habits Various poor eating habits have been noted among college groups in many recent studies.

They stated that many college students tended to select food according to convenience, taste, time, and price rather than nutritional values. Many college students tended to choose quick and tasty options, which were usually available through vending machines [ 4 ].

In a study on correlation between perceived parenting style and the eating practices of college freshmen, Barneset al. Through this survey, they found little evidence of the effect of parenting style on eating habits in a college group. The researchers concluded that parenting style did not affect the eating habits of college students as much as it does in the eating habit of children and youth [ 5 ]. Weight management In a study to determine weight management knowledge in firstyear college students, Das and Evens surveyed 45 first-year students who were recruited using a cross-sectional method.

They found that the reasons for weight gain among first-year college students were the changes in the social and physical environments, such as dietary intake including alcohol use, physical activity, stress, and sleep [ 2 ]. Challenges Das and Evans discovered that men and women reported different types of barriers for maintaining health. On the other hand, women reported lack of time to exercise or eat healthy, inability to manage time, stress from different environments, and failure to prioritize weight management as their perceived barriers [ 2 ].

Health promotion and healthy behaviors Healthy behaviors, such as physical activity, are often compromised among college students. The researchers noted that many undergraduate students had less than optimal health nor participated in healthy behaviors on a regular basis.

Social eating poses serious problems for college students

They discovered that college students believed the application was beneficial and helpful in that it promoted healthy behaviors and raised awareness [ 6 ].

Many colleges in the United States provide nutrition-related courses for their students. The participants reported that the 15-week course had a significant impact on their behavior changes. More physical activity and exercise were initiated. The researchers found that the intervention increased the number of college students eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables.

They emphasized the importance of developing interventions tailored to college students to promote healthy behaviors [ 8 ].

Similar results were shown in another recent study. Texting has become one of the common communication tools in college-aged population. They found out that college students had better understanding of nutrition and increased their fruit and vegetable consumption. Furthermore, text messaging appeared to be an effective education tool to enhance nutrition related knowledge and encourage healthy behaviors in college students [ 1 ].

There is a lack of knowledge in nutritional values among college students. Some students develop poor eating habits and tend to select food according to convenience, taste, time, and price available to them rather than their nutritional values [ 4 ]. Therefore, many college students struggle managing their weight as they gain more weight each year.

Some barriers to healthy behaviors they reported are lack of time, lack of healthy food options, and lack of social support [ 2 ].

  1. The participants reported that the 15-week course had a significant impact on their behavior changes. Statements 1-12 addressed RQ1 using the frequency scale never 1 , rarely 2 , every day 3 , and more than once a day 4.
  2. The current college-aged group should have had education on nutrition back in elementary school via the Food Pyramid. Results After collecting the required surveys, demographics and survey statements were analyzed using the quantitative measures.
  3. The survey instrument was developed after a thorough review of the literature.
  4. Statements addressed RQ2 using the agreement scale.

Various interventions such as text messaging, Smartphone application, and college courses appeared to be very beneficial in promoting healthy behaviors such as exercise and eating healthy food. Methodology This was a quantitative, cross-sectional study with a descriptive design. All participants were 18 years of age or older and currently attending college. The sample size was 121 college students. A convenient sampling method was used, because access was easy and all individuals were encouraged to participate.

The survey instrument was developed after a thorough review of the literature. The survey tool was thoroughly reviewed by the nursing faculty and peers to obtain face-validity. The demographics helped obtain information about the specific aggregate. The survey included five demographic and 20 Likerttype survey statements.

Statements 1-12 addressed RQ1 using the frequency scale never 1rarely 2every day 3and more than once a day 4. Statements 13-20 addressed RQ2 using the agreement scale. Permission was obtained to conduct the surveys outside the college Dining Commons. Participants had the freedom to answer survey questions before or after their meals.

A table was set up with survey sheets and informed consents, as well as candy to help give individuals the initiative to participate in the study. Each individual willing to participate was given explanation regarding the informed consent and requested to sign it before completing the survey. Participants received a copy of the informed consent.

Completed surveys and signed informed consents were collected separately in envelopes to ensure confidentiality. Results After collecting the required surveys, demographics and survey statements were analyzed using the quantitative measures.

A total of 125 students took the survey. However, 4 survey responses were incomplete, and therefore, withdrawn from the data. The demographic results are displayed in percentages and frequencies in Table 1.