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Lost in Translation


Students with knowledge of healthful eating still hit hurdles

Is knowledge everything? In many cases knowing what you need to do is half the battle. That does not appear to be the case regarding healthy food choices and college students.

One study published in Nutrition and Health surveyed over 300 exercise science (ES) and non-exercise science (NES) students. ES students are required to enroll in an introductory nutrition course that focuses on healthy food selection. Researchers hypothesized that all students would have similar snack consumption regardless of nutrition education. Though ES students did choose fruits more frequently than NES students, the difference was not statistically significant. Overall, the researchers found that knowledge about healthy food choices did not translate to making healthier food choices. Investigators suggest that food environment, new financial responsibility and meal preparation trumped acquired nutrition knowledge when it came to food choices.

Another study out of Bethel College School of Nursing sought to examine eating habits and knowledge of nutrition requirements for 121 college students. Students self-reported a focus on hydration, choosing foods according to taste preference as well as eating fresh fruits, though they also reported eating processed foods. This inconsistent practice is especially interesting because 89% of participants agreed that it’s unhealthy to eat processed foods. Researchers suggest the practice may be a result of limited food options on campus.

The bottom line is that eating healthy on campus can be an uphill battle, even if you have some knowledge of healthy food choices. New college students may benefit from acknowledging this ahead of time and strategizing to best incorporate healthy eating habits into their new routine. Most college campuses have a Registered Dietitian on staff to provide nutrition services, providing orientation to campus dining and meal options. Often they can advise on where the nearest grocery store is located, along with creative ways to make healthy meals in the dorm too. Whether you’re a student fending for yourself or a mom feeding a family, nutritious meals take time and planning, but there are plenty of resources to help you no matter where you do your food prep.

Published March 1, 2018

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