2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
As young adults move from home to attend college they embark on new experiences and memories, but they are also faced with many challenges and obstacles. One of those obstacles includes choosing the right foods to eat. One choice that might have a profound effect on their health is deciding whether or not to eat breakfast, a meal that is often skipped on college campuses. This is a concern because eating a nutritious meal in the morning will not only generate energy, but will also break the overnight fast, rejuvenate the metabolism, and provide essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To evaluate breakfast choices in teenagers and young adults an anonymous survey was distributed to 120 college students at the University of Kentucky and 120 high school students at Southwestern High School. The surveys were identical, self-administered questionnaires that asked demographic questions about lifestyle choices and specifics related to breakfast intake. On average college students ate breakfast 4.46 +/- 2.39 days a week compared to 4.11 +/- 3.1 days a week that high school students ate breakfast. There was statistical significance (P= 0.0125 ) when comparing BMI in college students never eating breakfast (25.54 +/- 4.0) versus those eating 6 + days a week (22.71 +/- 3.6) . When factoring in certain lifestyle choices such as alcohol there were trends. For example, more consumption of alcohol (78% of college students admitted to drinking one alcoholic drink per week compared to only 25 % of high school students) leads to decreased breakfast intake. The primary reason for skipping breakfast was lack of time, followed by sleeping late and no money. This research provided surprising results that students are eating more breakfast in college then they did in high school, but shows that all these teenagers and young adults need to be made aware of the importance in eating breakfast to promote health, wellness, and academic success.