2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: Obesity is on the rise in the United States with two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese. Spending habits and food choices both at restaurants and supermarkets are believed to be contributing factors.
Objectives: To examine: (1) Significant differences between the Body Mass Index (BMI) of students who eat at restaurants more frequently than those who consume food purchased from groceries, (2) correlations between place of residence and BMI, (3) correlations between amounts of money spent at grocery stores per week and BMI, and (4) the effects of financial status on food choices and BMI in college students.
Design: Analytical survey study.
Participants/Setting: 198 undergraduate college students (50% males, 50% females) ages 18-24 (20.33 +/- 1.23 yrs) at the University of Kentucky.
Main outcome Measures: Restaurant frequency and supermarket spending.
Statistical Analyses Performed: T-test
Results: Those students living and eating on campus had a significantly higher BMI than those off campus (24.18 +/- 4.15 kg/m2 vs 22.21 +/- 7.03 kg/m2). There was no significant difference in how many times a student ate at restaurants or cafeterias per week and their BMI. Those students who spent $0-$15 per week on groceries had a significantly lower BMI those who spent over $45 per week (23.92 +/- 4.09 kg/m2 vs 26.02 +/- 4.19 kg/m2).
Conclusion: Place of residence, money spent on groceries, and restaurant eating all appear to be related to BMI. Students at the University of Kentucky need further education to make health-promoting food choices both at the supermarket and when eating out.