2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Obesity and other health related issues are on the rise in United States, particularly in the state of Kentucky with obesity rates reaching 32%. Experts believe that the increasing portion sizes that people consume have a direct correlation to the rise in body mass index (BMI). This relationship was investigated in 200 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky who completed a survey about portion sizes and eating habits. The participants included 121 females (age 22.75±5.63 years) and 79 males (age 22.17±2.58 years). The average BMI for the participants was 23.88±3.12 kg/m2. Of the 200 survey participants, 115 of them believed that they did consume portion sizes that were larger than recommended on a regular basis. They ate out on an average of 2.58±1.5 times per week with burger places being the most common location to dine. Sit down restaurants were the second most common location for eating out. This research found no direct correlation between dining out and BMI. There was also no correlation found between an increase in cups of pasta consumed and BMI. For chicken consumption, the largest increase in BMI was found in those who ate a very small amount. The BMI of people who ate 1 ounce of chicken in a sitting was highest at 26.27±4.49 kg/m2, whereas those who ate 6 ounces of chicken in a sitting had an average BMI of 23.39±1.72 kg/m2. This lack of positive correlation could mean that students are unaware of how much they are consuming, or that the students are already consuming appropriate portion sizes for their bodies since they are, as a whole, not overweight. Students need to be more informed on the recommended portion sizes and how to determine how much they have consumed.