2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
In the United States, 58 million people are overweight and 40 million are obese. Since 1982, the number of overweight children has tripled to 30% in the United States. Weight loss pills, surgery, and diet and exercise programs have been deployed to combat this epidemic. Successful interventions incorporate multiple components including: physical exercise, behavior modification, and nutritional education. The goal of this research was to evaluate whether calorie balance, exchange lists and the food pyramid are critical dietary concepts that should be incorporated into every weight-loss intervention. A sample of 154 college undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky completed a survey with questions related to age, gender, height, weight, food consumption, and a nutrition quiz. There were an equal number of males and females with an average age of 19.4+ 2.2 years. The average BMI was 23.4 + 4 kg/m2 (ranger 17.4 - 37.0). 19.5% of the participants were considered overweight, 4% of the participants were considered obese, and 1.9% was considered underweight. The participants who ate fast food 0 - 1.5 times per week had a significantly lower BMI (22.48 + 2.5 kg/m2 )than those who ate fast food 2-10+ times per week (23.8 + 3.7 kg/m2 , P = .0088). Participants who ate 6-10+ servings of grain per day had significantly lower BMI (24.2 + 5.3 kg/m2 ) than those who ate 0-3.5 servings per day (22.4 + 2.7 kg/m2 , P = .039). All the participants scored low on the nutritional quiz section of the survey. Females had an average score of 38% and males had an average score of 36%. No significant relationships were found between BMI and the overall score on the nutritional quiz. More research is needed to determine if people suffering from weight management problems lack the nutritional knowledge to manage their weight.