Improving Diets of College Students:Survey of Dietary Habits and Focus Group Perspectives on How to Best Teach Students

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Journal of Health Behavior and Public Health



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Objective: Assess dietary patterns of college freshmen, identify barriers to healthy eating, evaluate effectiveness of a brief nutrition workshop, and ascertain additional strategies for future interventions. Participants: College freshmen (181 men, 334 women), at a university in the western United States. Methods: Participants (n=515; 181 men, 334 women) completed a survey on diet and health habits during their first month of college (September 2009). Of those who completed the survey, 266 participated in a nutrition workshop as part of their freshman orientation. Twenty-one (5 men, 16 women) also participated in one of three focus groups (January and February 2010). Results: Average freshmen diets did not meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (n=515). Healthy eating was a concern for most (88.7%). Focus group participants endorsed workshop timing and made suggestions concerning content and format of follow-up nutrition education. Conclusions: Most freshmen are concerned about diet and could benefit from nutrition education. Continued education via cooking classes, meeting with "nutrition coaches," an interactive website, and/or emails may influence freshmen dietary behaviors.

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