Understanding Eating Behaviors and the Factors that Affect Them in Caucasian and Ethnic Minority College Students
Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences
Human Nutrition and Hospitality Innovation
Committee Member/Second Reader
Many studies have shown that college students do not eat well (Huang et al., 1994; Lorenzoni et al., 2021; Majeed, 2015). Research has identified factors that contribute to the reasons students don’t eat well. Factors such as food preferences (Deliens et al., 2014) eating habits before college (El Ansari et al., 2012), stress (Choi, 2020), dietary knowledge (Deliens et al., 2014; Nani, 2016), availability and accessibility of healthy foods (Payne-Sturges, 2017), knowledge of how to cook (Halfacre et al., 2021) and costs of food (Maroto et al., 2014) contributed to reasons students don’t eat nutritious meals. Dhillon et al. (2019) examined perceptions of the campus food environment and its influence on the eating choices of first-year students attending a Minority-serving university located in a food desert. Dhillon et al. (2019) found that the limited affordability of nutritious options was consistently considered a barrier to healthy eating. None of the literature reviewed looked to identify whether the Minority students had different eating behaviors than the Caucasian students or whether the factors that influenced those eating behaviors were different. The purpose of this study was to examine eating behaviors and factors that influence Caucasian and Minority students eating behaviors. For this study a Minority student is a student who does not list Caucasian only as their ethnicity.
This research project was a cross-sectional study conducted in Spring 2023. After approval from the University of Arkansas Institutional Review Board, a survey was promoted to undergraduate students. This survey focused on questions about eating habits and factors that influenced them. The null hypotheses were: 1) there are no significant differences in eating habits between Minority and Caucasian students, and 2) there are no significant differences in the factors that influence eating behaviors of Minority and Caucasian students.
Of the 227 students that completed the survey, 51.4 % of respondents were Minority students and 48.61 % of respondents were Caucasian students. After analyzing students' eating behaviors, no significant differences were found in eating habits of the respondents. Therefore, I failed to reject the first null hypothesis. There were statistically significant differences found in seven of the factors that influenced eating behaviors including how often they found it complicated to cook meals and locations where they ate meals throughout the week.
Even though my data did not show statistically significant differences in eating habits between Caucasian and Minority students in my study group, data did show that many of the respondents were not getting the recommended amount of food and beverage in different food groups each week, such as water, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. While more research is needed to see if these results would be the same for all University of Arkansas undergraduate students, some recommendations can be made. Our goal was to help improve eating habits of Minority students. Because Minority students were more likely to eat in the University Food Court compared to Caucasians, nutrition awareness programs could be promoted in the University Food Court to help inform or remind students of the recommended dietary intake. This coupled with a long term food education program (centering on introducing students to healthy foods and how to prepare healthy meals efficiently and at low cost) may improve nutritional intake of Minority students.
Eating habits, Eating behavior, factors, Minority, Caucasians, Students
Arnold, W. (2023). Understanding Eating Behaviors and the Factors that Affect Them in Caucasian and Ethnic Minority College Students. Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/hnhiuht/29
Comparative Nutrition Commons, International and Community Nutrition Commons, Other Nutrition Commons