Nutrition on College Campus
Health is very essential to everybody, and it is more vital for college students. The transition to college often poses new challenges for students in terms of dietary habits, having food choices determined by cafeteria meal plans or buying and planning food for one self for the first time since leaving home. (Brevard, 244) Surveys report that many college students tend to engage in harmful health practices, and poor dietary practices. (DeBate, 9) More than one third (35%) of college students are overweight or obese, and almost half (46%) report trying to lose weight through exercise or diet. (Lowry, 67) There is also a high prevalence of dieting behaviors among college women who avoid fat, have lower self-esteem, and are preoccupied with body size and shape. (Liebman, 102)
Furthermore, various stressors that could affect such dietary habits such as course load and examination stress, may influence students’ dietary habits, yet studies on the stress-eating association remain inconclusive in this population. (Weider, 37) Recent evidence shows that a dose-response relationship between stress and unhealthy dietary practices among adolescents, with higher levels of perceived stress that is linked with poor dietary habits, independent of gender, weight, and social factors. This was research conducted by Health and Behaviors Teenagers Study (HABITS).
Researches on the dietary practices of college students with the consumption of poor quality diets are associated with several behaviors. It has been pointed out that college students tend to skip meals frequently, snack on high – calorie food, consume large amounts of fast foods and alcohol, tend to avoid certain nutritious foods, and practice unsound and unsafe weight loss techniques. It has also been observed that a transition from home to college dorm could influence the students with more food selection and food preparation decisions while simultaneously adapting to an unfamiliar environment and lifestyle. During this transition phase several influential factors can contribute to the adoption of poor dietary practices. These factors include the availability of foods of low nutrient density, preoccupation with weight, financial restrictions, limited food preparation skills, restricted food storage and cooking facilities, difficulty with time management, and nutritional misconceptions (Koszewski ; Kuo,63-88)
College students are tied with a variety of new challenges that includes developmental, environmental, and social transitions. College students represent a vital target group for nutrition education and prevention efforts. Adolescents who skip breakfast and increase intake of fatty foods are perceived to have greater levels of stress exhibit acute changes in dietary practices. The indication of these findings implied that stress-induced dietary changes may add risks for serious health issues later in adulthood.
The adverse long – term health impact for these young adults are most concern of health educators. College students adapt misguided dietary practices and poor quality diets and this should be looked upon and treated. Consumption of insufficient diets during adolescents can elicit undesirable physiological events conducive to the occurrence of diet-related degenerative diseases later in life. However, there has been little research done to assess and evaluate their awareness of key nutrition issues, such as food composition, healthful eating, and the relationship between diet and health which are related to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Food Guide Pyramid. Approximately, there are currently an estimated 14 million individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, and that this figure is expected to reach 16 million by 2007 (Knutson, 2000), it is seriously significant to evaluate the need for nutrition education interventions about these nutrition topics with the aim of preventing many new cases of diet-related chronic disease.
It can be noted that an adequate knowledge on food nutrition will be beneficial for students to healthier food selection that will lead them to better food choices. Therefore, it would be valuable to assess the knowledge of college students about healthful eating, food composition, and the connection between diet and health to recognize specific areas that could be targeted with health education interventions.
Another issue of concern is the introduction in college food services of the of the “food court” concept, which offers students a chance to choose meals from a number of fast-food-style establishments. This type of food service offers a greater number of choices per meal, but the there’s a limited variety of foods offered and often criticized of lack of nutritional value.
Difference between Men and Women College Health
College men’s lifestyles are far less healthy than college women’s. Men have less knowledge about health, engage in riskier behaviors, are more prone to suicide, hide their pain and vulnerabilities and believe in an ethos of masculinity that may encourage substance abuse and risky sexual behavior.(Courtenay,W.,p.1) Universities should implement various health programs for them to address the disparity between men and women’s lifestyles and attitudes towards health.
Health professionals pay little attention to college men’s health even if they are in greater risks of disease, injury, and death are compared with women of the same age group. Studies have found that men have limited knowledge about health that’s why they have adopted unhealthy lifestyles.
Failure to Adopt Health-Promoting Behavior
One of the most important determinants of behavior is gender. Research consistently shows that men engage in fewer health-promoting behaviors and have less healthy lifestyles than women.(Kandrack,M.,579-590) A review of national data and hundreds of large studies has revealed that men of all ages are more likely than women to engage in more than 30 controllable behaviors that are conclusively linked with a greater risk of disease, injury, and death: Men eat more fat and less fiber, they sleep less, and they are more often overweight than women, to cite just a few examples (W.H.C., unpublished data;)
College men, specifically, engage in far fewer health-promoting behaviors than college women do.(Lonnquist,LE.,69-85) They consistently score lower on an index of health-protective behaviors that includes safety belt use, sleep, health information, eating habits, and exercise.( Walker SN. 11:76-90) College men are also significantly less likely to practice self-examinations for testicular cancer than college women are to practice self-examinations for breast cancer.( Katz RC.,18(4):377-384) Furthermore, college men’s health-promoting behaviors have been found to decrease over time, whereas those of college women increase. (Center, for Disease Control)
Among college students, traditional attitudes about masculinity have been linked to such poor health behaviors as smoking; using alcohol and other drugs; and behaviors related to safety, diet, sleep, and sexual practices.( Baffi CR., 15(1):9-18) College men who rigidly adhere to traditional notions of masculinity have more anxiety and poorer health habits than their less traditionally minded peers, (Eisler RM., 52(1):133-141) and they have greater cardiovascular reactivity in stressful situations.( Lash SJ., 14(1):3-20) Furthermore, they tend not to seek help from others and underused campus professional services.
Current epidemiologic evidence supports links between diet and many chronic diseases–atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis–although a hallmark of most student diets is fast food that is high in fat and sodium content. The college years present a distinct set of nutritional priorities, and poor eating habits often worsen during this time. One study reported that 69% of college students did not eat any fruit once a day, and 48% ate vegetables less than once daily.( Melby CL., 6:799-808.)
As mentioned earlier, stressors inherent in the college environment often aggravate a preoccupation with weight or precipitate eating disorders in those who are prone. The increasing attention to problems of inadequate nutrition on campuses today, however, has probably resulted in too little attention being paid to the other end of the spectrum of eating disorders–overeaters.
Campus Wellness Programs
Wellness does not merely referred to having a physically fit body but as well as self-esteem and a positive outlook, a sense of purpose, a strong concern for others, a respect for the environment, a balanced and integrated lifestyle, freedom from addictions of a negative nature, and a capacity to cope with what life presents as the individual continues to learn.
School administration should concentrate on all the dimensions of wellness such as spiritual, the emotional, the environmental, the social, the vocational, the intellectual, as well as the physical, in order for the program to be effective, it should be well rounded and have focus. Wellness programs should reach out to students who do not present themselves for medical care, extending the boundaries of the health center into the surrounding campus community.
College students already find themselves in an environment that affords ample opportunities for initiating various kinds of learning experiences about nutrition topics. Efforts could help realize the Healthy People 2010 objective of promoting a more healthful diet among young adults. There are several programs college administration tried to promote among their students such as fitness and wellness programs, where they persuade their students to engage in various physical activity programs.
Health should be promoted with an organized set of activities designed to assist individuals in making voluntary behavior changes that reduce their health risks, modify their consumer health behavior, and enhance their personal well-being and productivity
Community Healthcare Resources
There should be ample services that are available for college students fro their awareness and understanding the importance of their health. Easy access to primary medical care and convenience to public health facilities are primary concerns of students. However, it is not the medical problems that are unique to college students, but the students’ lifestyles that cause the problems.
Promote Healthy Environment
College health services could work together with the food services department to guarantee that quick and healthy meals and snacks are readily available and easily identifiable; this will help promote healthy eating in the campus environment. Campus health services could also promote off-campus dining facilities or specialized food markets that offer healthy food choices by highlighting those establishments in newsletters or Web sites.
Nutrition at Eckerd College
Eckerd College has a strong commitment to healthy living for its students. For an example, the school switched its food service to a company supports sustainable agriculture practices, uses no frozen or canned vegetables, and fresh eggs rather than powdered ones. Eckerd College stressed a synergism between the mind, the body and the spirit. College emphasizes physical activity in its program through wellness, or substance-free, housing is available options for their students.
On the continuum of health and well-being, college health must move away from merely treating outcomes of disease and toward community wellness, where health is an outcome unto itself. Nutrition health programs should focus beyond primary medical care and concentrate on connectivity. Colleges should continue to promote, develop and enhance various health programs for their students for them to attain such wellness and a healthy environment not only for the students but the whole community as well. A healthy environment constitutes a healthy lifestyle and thus it correlates somehow to the well being of the students and will become visible in their cognitive, social and physical well being.
There’s a need for health educators to develop and widen more nutrition messages and experiential learning opportunities about health nutrition tools that intend to assist students choose healthful daily diets. Such health promotion interventions should stress the long-term benefits of making desirable dietary changes and the health risks associated with the types of poor quality diets often consumed by college students
Institutions of higher education must now develop and expand a global definition of wellness that is everyone’s responsibility, which promotes program ownership, reaches a broader population, and enhances the opportunity for cultural and social change on campus.
The health of the campus and the health of the community become ever more interdependent. In various ways, institutions of higher education create a health environment for their students. That environment affects students’ educational outcomes, as well as the quality of life of everyone on campus, and the health of the surrounding community. College and university presidents must put the health of students higher on their own and their institution’s agenda.
Baffi CR, Redican KJ, Sefchick MK, Impara JC. Gender role identity, gender role stress, and health behaviors: An exploratory study of selected college males. Health Values. 1991;15(1):9-18.
Courtenay, Will H. Journal of American College Health; May 1, 1998
DeBate RD, Topping M, Sargent RG. Racial and gender differences in weight status and dietary practices among college students. Adolescence. 2001;36:819-833.
Eisler RM, Skidmore JR, Ward CH. Masculine gender-role stress: Predictor of anger, anxiety, and health-risk behaviors. J Person Assess. 1988;52(1):133-141.
Kandrack M, Grant KR, Segall A. Gender differences in health related behaviour: Some unanswered questions. Soc Sci Med. 1991;32:579-590.
Katz RC, Meyers K, Walls J. Cancer awareness and self-examination practices in young men and women. J Behav Med. 1995; 18(4):377-384.
Koszewski, W. M. ; Kuo, M. (1996). Factors that influence the food consumption behavior and nutritional adequacy of college women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 96, 1286-1288.
Knutson, B. J. (2000). College students and fast food — how students perceive restaurant brands. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 41, 68-74.
Lash SJ, Eisler RM, Schulman RS. Cardiovascular reactivity to stress in men: Effects of masculine gender role stress appraisal and masculine performance challenge. Behav Modif. 1990;14(1):3-20.
Liebman M, Cameron BA, Carson DK, Brown DM, Meyer SS. Dietary fat reduction behaviors in college students: relationship to dieting status, gender and key psychosocial variables. Appetite. 2001;36:51 56.
Lonnquist LE, Weiss GL, Larsen DL. Health value and gender in predicting health protective behavior. Women Health. 1992; 19(2/3):69-85.
Lowry R, Galuska D, Fulton J, Wechsler H, Kahn CJ. Physical activity, food choice, and weight management goals and practices among US college students. Am J Prey Med. 2000; 18:18-27.
Melby CL, Femea PL, Sciacca JP. Reported dietary and exercise behaviors, beliefs and knowledge among university undergraduates. Nutr Res. 1986;6:799-808.
Ted, Grace W. Health Problems of College Students. Journal of American College Health May 1, 1997
Walker SN, Volkan K, Sechrist KR, Pender NJ. Health promoting life-styles of older adults: Comparisons with young and middle-aged adults, correlates and patterns. Advan Nurs Sci. 1988; 11:76-90.
Weider G, Kohlman CW, Dotzauer E, Burns LR. The effects of academic stress on health behaviors in young adults. Anx Stress Coping. 1996;9:123-133.
Centers for Disease Control. Public health focus: Impact of safety-belt use on motor-vehicle injuries and costs–Iowa, 1987-1988. MMWR. 1993:42:704.