2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
With the ever-increasing pressure college students are put under, their bodies and health are often pushed to the end of the to-do list. Students put their regular sleep patterns and eating habits aside when the pressure hits, often times staying awake through the night before a major test or product due date. There has been little to no research conducted on the diets and eating habits of those who forgo normal sleeping patterns and remain awake through the night. The goal of this research project was to analyze the caloric intake and snacking habits of students participating in DanceBlue, a 24-hour dance marathon. Subjects were asked to complete 7 total surveys; one introductory survey to collect background and anthropometric data and 6 subsequent surveys completed during the marathon which asked detailed accounts of the caloric intakes of 21 participants. Participants were undergraduate students, 9 males and 12 females, ranging in age from 18 to 22 years. The average Body Mass Index (BMI) of participants was 22.96 ± 2.88 kg/m2, with 76.19% of participants being of normal weight (18.5 - 24.9 kg/m2). During the 24-hour marathon period, participants completed surveys every four hours which included a detailed description of the foods consumed from the meal provided, as well as any beverages or snacks which were consumed. Seventy-one percent of participants responded positively when asked if the food choices made during the time were typical for their diet. As well, 43% of participants believed that sleep deprivation affected their food choices during the Dance Marathon. This research provides evidence that many college students change their food intake when sleep deprived. Strategies and educational tools need to be developed to better educate students about making nutrient-dense, healthy food choices, even when tired.