Nutrition Education Essay, Research Paper
Off to College:
When parents send their children off to college, they might entertain the notion that their little darlings, having been brought up with the four basic food groups, will continue to practice impeccable dietary habits. Little do they know that their children skip meals, guzzle soda by the case, subsist on a diet that would make a mother cringe (Baker 12).
Quick and easy meals are most attractive to students, so the microwave plays a major role in student’s living habits. One half of all students say they use a microwave everyday, reports Roper CollegeTrack, an annual survey of student’s behavior and attitudes.
When college students arrive on campus there are so many changes they must go through. The simple fact of not being home can cause major amounts of stress, therefore changing a young-adult’s eating habits. From my personal experiences as a college student, I have seen one of two things happen to students: they either gain weight or lose weight. When I came to college I weighed 150lbs. By the time I went home for my first Christmas break I weighed 173lbs. I got bigger, but not necessarily fatter. I weighed more, but my pants fit more loosely. A steady diet and consistent physical activity are the two keys to keeping the body you want during the most hectic, unstructured time of your life. My roommate played football with me my freshman year and weighed approximately 280lbs. He decided not to play anymore and wanted to lose weight. He began to workout and dieting right. He now weighs approximately 245lbs. This is a prime example of knowing what is right to eat for you.
College students who leave home to live on campus or in an apartment face a period of transition during which they must assume greater responsibility for themselves, and this includes responsibility for their nutrition and dietary habits. Differences in dietary habits among college students have been well documented. Several factors have been shown to influence food selection, including gender, the desire to lose weight, age, academic major, and body-image perception. The location of residence has also been shown to influence food selection, but the relation between food selection and nutrient intake has not been documented (Beerman 1).
For many students, living on a university campus is a traditional period between living at home with parents and living independently. Food decisions are among the newest responsibility that many students’ face. Because new eating habits developed during these years, both negative and positive, are likely to be maintained, nutrient education effects have been targeted towards this group.
The amount of information that people know about nutrition does not always affect what they eat. Many college students who do not major in nutrition take a course in basic nutrition, and the changes in student’s concerns, habits, and knowledge of nutrition because of taking such a course were studied. Not all college students are required to take a nutrition course as a requirement to complete their degree. I believe that it would make a major difference in eating habits of many college students if they did. I took a “mini poll” in Whiteford Hall. I asked twenty different girls what their biggest nutritional fear of coming to college was. All twenty girls said that they were scared to get fat or gain weight. I asked them if they were going to take this nutrition course any time during their education here. Only seven said they would consider taking the course. I have not yet completed this course, but I have learned so many new things about my body and the way the works. Now I feel that I can lead a healthy life from the knowledge I have accumulated from this course. Upon completing a basic nutrition course, students felt that they had learned a lot about nutrition, but only 45 percent said that they made changes in their eating habits because of this. The only statistically significant change in food habits was the tendency to drink low-fat milk. Most also decreased their use of vitamins and mineral supplements (Mitchell 7).
The Basic Nutrition course for the non-nutrition major may be the most widespread, in-depth means of teaching nutrition to college students. This course provides both academic and practical nutritional education, so the teaching is complicated by the need “to create informed consumers who value good nutrition and consume nutritious foods throughout their lives.” Classroom tests measure textbook nutritional knowledge, but the practical application is not measurable. Several studies have found that nutritional knowledge is not predicting of dietary practices (Mitchell 8). I don’t agree with this statement. I believe that the more nutritional knowledge that you have, the better you will eat. If you know something is bad for your body, I’m sure you will refrain from eating it. You might not totally remove it from your diet, but you will probably lower your intake of the specific item. If you have no knowledge of the nutritional value of what you eat, you will have no chance of being a healthy person. College is a very demanding time in your in your life, both physically and mentally. You need all of the help you can get. Having a consistently healthy diet can play a major role in your college existence. You need the right type of energy to complete all of your daily tasks. If you have no knowledge of dietary requirements or the nutritional value of different foods, you can not make the right decisions for food consumption. College students indicated that the greatest value of improved nutrition was better health in the future. This should be considered in motivating students to make dietary changes (Mitchell 8).
Vegetarian eating habits are popular among college-aged and teenage people. About 15 percent of the 15 million college students eat vegetarian meals. However, vegetarianism is more popular among women than men. 50 percent of women ages 18-19 believe in vegetarianism. Many young vegetarians choose not to eat meat in order to reduce the intake of fat, but some will occasionally eat meat. However, young vegetarians definitely do not prefer vegetarian-style meat products (Walker 6).
To many Americans, the term “vegetarian” conjures up images of hippies noshing on tofu and brown rice. But a new generation of vegetarians may bring meatless eating out of the extreme and into the mainstream. The new bastions of vegetarianism are college campuses (Walker 7). Young women seem to be driving the trend toward meatless eating. Nearly 50 percent of women college students say vegetarianism is in compared with the 33 percent of men students, according to Roper CollegeTrack. Pamela Limpitt, food service purchasing director for the University of Pennsylvania, agrees: “I’d say 9 in 10 of our vegetarian students are women (Walker 12).
Athletes and eating:
A survey of young female athletes at a midwestern university reveals that nutrition knowledge is positively related to healthy eating practices. Data on these two indicators were collected to compare nutrition between female high school and college athletes in 1992. Analysis shows that the older athletes had more accurate nutrition knowledge and better eating habits than their younger counterparts. Moreover, a significant proportion indicated that they often turn to their coaches and trainers for this type of information, suggesting that physical education teachers can shape nutrition attitudes (Buch 1).
Coaches and others who work with athletes must teach young people how to select nutritious foods that will promote a lifetime of good health. Young female athletes’ concerns about weight and body image strongly influence their eating practices. Knowledge alone is not enough to ensure good dietary habits. Attitudes also affect behavior (Buch 2).
Nutrition knowledge is positively associated with age, education, dietary pattern, sources of nutrition education, and length of time in a sport (Frederick & Hawkins, 1992; Perron & Endres, 1985). Other important factors, such as concern for weight and the dependence on others for food selection, also affect food consumption (Barr, 1987).
Athletes are always concerned with their performance and how to improve it. They may work to improve their technique, lift weights, or add the right nutrients in their body to perform at optimum levels. The only problem is that any athletes do not have the proper nutritional knowledge to make the right dietary decisions. For example, to build one pound of lean tissue, an athlete must consume approximately 98 grams of protein and 2,800 calories for extra energy to synthesize muscle (Williams, 1988). If this were the athlete’s goal for a week it would mean 14 grams of protein and 400 calories per day in addition to the usual diet. Fourteen grams of protein can be obtained in two glasses of milk or two ounces of lean meat. With a small amount of additional protein and enough fuel from complex carbohydrates, muscle building can occur. This is all very simple if you have the knowledge. Most athletes think that for muscle building you must take supplements or just eat a lot in general. This is why nutritional education is so important for an athlete to succeed in a very competitive age of sports competition.
College is a very hard time for a young adult to be worrying about too many things at once. They have been fed all of their lives and been taught what is good and what is bad for them. There are some many outside factors that make your food selections for you. Many of these choices, you have no control over. That is why I believe nutritional knowledge is so very important in a college student’s survival. If you eat the right things you will have no weight or health problems. A good diet can ensure a long energetic life. During your college years you need all of the energy you need to pull “all nighters” during exams and when writing nutrition papers. The more knowledge you have the better your body will feel and the healthier you will be.
Baker, Susannah. College cuisine makes mothers cringe. American Demographics. Sept 1991, v13 n9 p10-12.
Beerman, Kathy A. Variation in nutrient intake of college students: a comparison by student’s residence. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. March 1991, v91 n3 p343-344.
Buch, Jane. Nutrition knowledge and eating practices of young female athletes. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. March 1995, v66 n3 p36-42.
Mitchell, Sandra J. Changes after taking a college nutrition course. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. July 1990, v90 n7 p955-962.
Walker, Chip. Meet the new vegetarian. American Demographics. Jan 1995, v17 n1 p9-12.