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Location: Delta Obesity Prevention Research

Title: Addressing the nutritional needs of university students

item Taylor, Felecia
item Gao-balch, Ying
item Sharman, Jyotsna

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2012
Publication Date: 7/1/2012
Citation: Taylor, F.D., Gao-Balch, Y.H., Sharman, J. 2012. Addressing the nutritional needs of university students [abstract]. 7th Annual Texas Conference on Health Disparities. University of North Texas, July 12-13, 2012, Ft. Worth, Texas. Poster No. 402.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The USDA Delta Obesity Prevention Research Project seeks to identify and evaluate dietary and physical activity patterns in African American students to develop an educational intervention that is nutritionally adequate and culturally relevant for 18- to 24-year-old African-American university students in the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD). Poor nutritional habits and failure to engage in the recommended physical activity have been cited as major contributors to overweight and obesity in the United States. Minimal research addressing sustainable prevention and intervention strategies for African American college students exist, all while African Americans have the widest deviance from current nutritional guidelines. Rural regions are often underserved; and although the Delta region of the United States has a rich history, health disparities abound. The Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) encompasses portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky, which have a history of disparities ranging from education, economics, housing, and health. A university located in this region has an obligation to address issues of importance to its constituents. Healthy lifestyle obstacles faced by students who hail from rural regions can include weight gain and reduced physical activity. The Delta Obesity Project utilized several methods to assess and evaluate the university students. In Spring 2010, three sets of data were collected from the student population, including focus group data, 24-hour food recall data, and Individual Interview data. Additionally in 2012, the project underwent a Feasibility of Adoption Study in which students participated in planned nutritional and physical activity educational sessions. Anthropometric measures such as height, weight, BMI, body image assessment, pretest data, and program evaluation data were collected from participants. The full intervention is set to commence Fall 2012. The largely female, 18- to 24-year-old study participants are aware of their nutritional disparities, and acknowledge there is room for improvement, and have a desire to improve. HEI scores measure the intake of ten dietary components for a possible 100 points. A diet with a score greater than 80 is considered "good", a score of 51-80 is considered "fair", and a score of less than 51 is considered "poor". The mean HEI score of 50 reflects the average consumption of an African American student at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The project will ultimately impact behaviors through university-based health promotion programming, including peer education, education opportunities, and hands-on education. These activities will ultimately demonstrate an improvement in the student HEI scores, nutritional adherance, and overall weight reduction.