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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DELTA OBESITY PREVENTION RESEARCH PROGRAM

Location: Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit

Title: How UAPB students eat: Preliminary results

Authors
item Taylor, Felicia -
item Sharman, Jyotsna -
item Gao-Balch, Ying Hua -

Submitted to: Agricultural Experiment Station Publication
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2012
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Citation: Taylor, F.D., Sharman, J., Gao-Balch, Y. 2012. How UAPB students eat: Preliminary results. Arkansas Environmental, Agricultural and Consumer Sciences Journal. 11:10-14.

Interpretive Summary: Obesity is a disease that contributes to numerous health problems that are prevalent in the Black community: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Prevention of weight gain and maintenance of a healthy weight during the college years could result in a reduction in the number of obese individuals as students move toward full maturity. Consuming large amounts of high energy dense foods and physical inactivity have been cited as major contributors to becoming overweight and obese and to chronic conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Exploration of college students’' adherence to and knowledge of the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the foundation of this project targeting African-American students, aged 18-24, at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. This paper covers the methodology, student demographic data, and data collected during the course of the study. Data collected from this study will lead to the development of an educational program that will empower college students with the knowledge and skills to evaluate their current diet and physical activities.

Technical Abstract: The University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff Delta Obesity Prevention Research Project (DOPRP) is focused on nutritional adherence to the dietary guidelines, prevention of excess weight, promotion of healthy eating, and maintenance of a healthy weight during the college years. Adjusting to college life can lead to negative eating and no physical activity for college students. Obesity is a disease that contributes to numerous health problems that are prevalent in the Black community: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Prevention of weight gain and maintenance of a healthy weight during the college years could result in a reduction in the number of obese individuals as students move toward full maturity. Consuming large amounts of high-energy-dense foods and physical inactivity have been cited as major contributions to becoming overweight and obese and chronic conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The demographics data collected on the focus group participants included gender, age, and school-year classification. A total of 69 students participated in the focus groups: 64% female and 36% male. The age breakdown included: 42% ages 18-19 y and 20-21 y respectively, 9% aged 22-24 y, and 7% aged 24 y and up. Thirty-three percent of the students were sophomores, 31% were juniors, 19% were seniors, and 17% were freshmen. The most popular reason given for eating was boredom, followed by stress. The most popular vegetable eaten was salad, the most common meat is chicken, the most common snack food was chips, and fast food was eaten daily. Students reported that they eat fresh fruits daily, most commonly grapes. A deterrent to consuming fresh fruits was the high cost. Meats consumed by students were usually prepared by frying or boiling. Students had a tendency to supersize their soft drinks and their french fries. Eating at a fast food restaurant was a common, daily occurrence. Barriers to eating healthy include: lack of motivation, lack of financial resources, and not having evident health concerns. Food choices were more influenced by peers than family. Students most commonly ate at the campus cafeteria for lunch. Some physical activity was practiced daily. Some students believed they had an eating disorder but had not been diagnosed by a medical professional. The students' concept of healthy eating included eating fruits and vegetables, portion control and following the Dietary Guidelines or My Pyramid. Students generally felt and acknowledged they were not healthy eaters, and the data indicated that food insecurity is not a problem in this population as students admitted access to fruits and vegetables. Students were open to attending a healthy eating class or engaging in healthy eating education and provided ideas on what and how they would like to learn. A multi-component design will be used to develop an educational program that will empower college students with knowledge and skills to evaluate their current diet and physical activities.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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