2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: The American population that is overweight and obese has steadily increased in the past 20 years with two-thirds of the population now fitting in these categories. Along with this decline of health there has been an increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is prevalent in the majority of processed foods Americans consume, particularly because it is cost efficient while still providing the level of sweetness Americans crave. Regular soft drinks are a significant contributor to overall HFCS intake. This study evaluates the correlation between unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI) and soft drink consumption among college students, explores knowledge level on HFCS, and gages whether or not college students would change their eating habits if it was shown that HFCS has a negative effect on health.
Methods: In order to determine the BMI, regular soft drink consumption, knowledge about health issues related to being overweight, and attitudes about behavioral change a paper survey was distributed to 170 undergraduate students in Kentucky, 122 females and 48 males.
Results: 74% of students who consumed regular soft drinks frequently (greater than 4 times per week) were either unsure or not willing to change their consumption if a correlation was shown between HFCS consumption and weight gain or the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Conversely, 22% of those who did not consume frequently said they were unsure or not willing to change their consumption. There was no significant correlation between BMI and regular soft drink consumption between participants. Those students who obtained their nutritional information from college classes were more knowledgeable about HFCS than those who gained their knowledge from the media.
Conclusion: These finding have important implications about HFCS consumption and its possible relationship to knowledge and attitudes about altering eating habits to improve health.