Whether the food lifestyle of the college student prefer healthy food or fast food

 

Introduction

The lifestyle of students is changing with times. From recent studies and observations, it is assumed that college students prefer more junk food as compared to healthy food. I conducted a survey of 50 students in the university and asked them their habit of drinking and eating so that we can test whether the food lifestyle of the college student prefer healthy food or fast food

Literature Review

Student life is full of all sorts of temptations and adventures, which may adversely affect the health of the youths. However, college students might not tend to feel the influence because of their high metabolism and sport activity participation. But on the long term, the eating behavior might stay the same while exercise would be less and that is when diseases would accumulate (Knutson, 2000). This is why the young generation should be actively engaged in athletic exercises, for that it is always beneficial to individuals. Similarly, the diet has a main influence on the individual’s health and healthy food is necessary to maintain optimum wellness and healthy body.

Modern life is often not allowing individuals to spend time on a meal as needed. Since schedules are tight and technology has paced the lifestyle of humans, people often look for shortcuts, time saving tips, and quick food consumption. Ultimately, these conditions are present at the fast food restaurants that offer junk food, which usually refers to high-calorie, high-fat and low-nutrient foods.

According to the amount of calories, couple of hamburgers could be estimated as much as whole dinner (Schlosser, 2012). Yet, certainly they do not provide the essential nutrients of an entire meal. Consequently, a person’s body is not receiving the necessary nutrients. College students tend to choose fast food rather than healthy food due to shortage of time, taste, fashion, unawareness and many other reasons (Counihan, 1992). So it can be said that, “College students are more inclined towards consumption of fast food rather than healthy food”.

A balanced diet refers to choose a variety of foods, made ​​through an appropriate mix of diet; this diet can meet all kinds of people’s needs on the energy and nutrient levels. There are different food groups like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fats. A balanced diet is a combination from those food groups according to one’s need without excessive take from any nutrient.

College life is probably the most beautiful and amazing part of one’s life. However, students’ eating behavior diet leads to consequences on the health. They generally eat fast foods, snacks and sugar concentrated drinks (Schlosser, 2012). Eating fast foods instead of conventional home made food is adversely influential on the person’s health because of the processed type of food and the chemicals that are used to preserve the food products in their cans. When students ingest fast food, they are ingesting all the greasy low quality ingredients as well.

A number of factors are responsible for these changes that occur in them but there are several things that can be done to avoid gain in weight and obesity. Among the three nutrients that provide calories (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), carbohydrate and fats generally exceeds the recommended levels (Schlosser, 2012). It is also found that college students also tend to have a low intake of dietary fiber. More facts from previous research conclude that male students generally eat more food than females. So, as a result they have a higher energy intake.

Other factors that affect students’ eating habits include irregular timetable of classes, different types of homeworks, and part-time jobs. Despite of these hardships, it is necessary for students to find time for themselves so that they can eat well because the results are very important for good health. It is found that intake of vitamin C is low with college students and also the intake of fruits and vegetables is low among the college students. Sodium intake is generally higher than recommended while Calcium, iron, and zinc intake are low (Knutson, 2000).

Some recommendations for students to keep in mind is to try healthy alternatives instead of junk food. For instance, students should always choose steamed food over fried. In addition, students should be aware of serving sizes and how much they can consume without disturbing their body. There are many precautions that college students can take to eat in a more convenient way and enjoy their college life without harming their health. Some of the techniques that can be used during the college life to stay healthy are get eight hours of sleep a night as it helps you to relax, They should always eat breakfast, which helps increase the energy level and breakfast should contain calcium, folic acid, and vitamin C (Knutson, 2000). Drinking water and eating fruit regularly are necessities. In addition, regular exercise, consumption of low amount of calories, low-fats, and limit of alcohol intake may play a vital role in the weight control.

College life is the most excited life of the students but on most occasions, students ruin their dietary lifestyle by eating junk food. Many college students are either the victim of obesity or they have less weight than they should have just because they don’t have a good and healthy diet (Knutson, 2000). Students should try to take such a diet which is good for their health and also good for their mind as a healthy body and healthy mind are related.

In one study found that prolonged excessive consumption of snack foods can seriously damage the brain, especially in some Western fast food restaurants where the brain damage could be more serious such as KFC and McDonald’s. These food items might affect children’s growth and lead to brain damage, or memory loss.

Expert’s advice, fast food high in fat may also cause serious damage to the developing nervous system of young children, and can also cause permanent damage to their brain and thinking quality.

A few years ago in America, published a book Spurloka Morgan, who decided to have only a month at McDonald’s and the results were shocking where significant weight gain, increased blood cholesterol levels, drowsiness, lethargy, depression, and decreased libido.

Fast food has been considered to cause a lot of health problems, but a recent study added to it the label of “crime” because it keeps the mind dull. According to the survey, children who eat fast food, their math, science and reading in grades lower than the kids do not eat fast food.

The survey of 8500 students chooses a representative sample starts to detect fast-food intake from them 10 years old. Three years later, they were asked how often to eat a McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King. 52% of students answered eat 1-3 times a week, 10% eat 4-6 times, and another 10 percent eat every day (Niemeier et al., 2006).

According to a recent study, it has been shown that fast food is not only a major cause of child obesity, but also an impact on student achievement where fast food consumption and inversely correlates to the student achievement (Niemeier et al., 2006). Therefore, the extensive influence in academic performance and in school is highly important to consider when eating junk food.

 

 

Research Question and Hypothesis of Research

 

From the data collected from survey, I am going to test whether college students take care of their health and eat healthy food or they just rely on the unhealthy and fast food. The research will examine whether college students would rather eat junk food rather than healthy alternatives and then will test whether there is any statistically significant association between the preference of food and preference of drinks, gender, and exercise. The null and alternative hypothesis are defined as below:

Null Hypothesis (Ho): There is no significant association between the selection of food and other characteristics of college student such as preference of drinks, gender, and exercise.

Alternative Hypothesis (Ha): There is a significant association between the selection of food and other characteristics of college student such as preference of drinks, gender, and exercise.

I will try to get as much information as possible for the data in order to test the research hypothesis specified above. Apart from above hypothesis, I will also test whether college student does anything to keep them fit.

Research Design:

The data is collected from 50 college students at VCU. I have given them survey questions which consist of 15 questions to fill out. The data consist of nominal and ordinal type. The population consists of the college students at VCU chosen randomly at different times of the day. Below are the survey questions:

What type of food do you prefer?

  • Snacks
  • Fast food
  • Homemade food
  • Other (specify):_________

What year are you at VCU?

  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
  • Other (specify):_________

Which type of bread would you prefer?

  • White Bread
  • Whole Wheat Bread
  • Neither

Are you more inclined to snack during study?

  • Yes
  • No

What is your gender?

  • Male
  • Female

How often do you eat snacks?

  • One to two times a day
  • Three to four times a day
  • More than four times a day
  • Never

How often do you eat breakfast?

  • Everyday
  • Eat during work days
  • Eat when I have enough time
  • I don’t eat breakfast

How often do you eat vegetables and fruits a day?

  • With Every Meal
  • Once a day
  • Rarely
  • None

How often do you use the vending machine for snacks?

  • Everyday
  • Occasionally
  • Rarely
  • Never

Which one would you choose as a moto?

  • Eat healthy and Stay fit
  • Eat fast food and enjoy my meal
  • Do not have preference

I am the type of person who does exercise on average of

  • An hour everyday
  • 30 minutes everyday
  • 10 minutes everyday
  • Not at all

Which drinks would you like to consume more than you already do?

  • Water
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • Juice
  • Milk

How important is it for you to eat healthy food?

  • Extremely important
  • Somewhat important
  • Neither important nor unimportant
  • Somewhat unimportant
  • Extremely unimportant

 

I have got all response to all questions except for two responses are missing for “How often do you use the vending machine for snacks?” None of the other response is missing in the data. The above data is coded in SPSS in order to perform the analysis because none of the software is analyzing the non-numeric data. The below is the screenshot of the SPSS data:

 

Method of Data Analysis:

 

We can see that all the data collected in the survey is ordinal and nominal data, so the best method is to analyze this data is using categorical analysis such as Cross tabulation, bar charts, pie charts, frequencies and chi square test statistics for association. The research hypothesis will be test using the chi-square test for association between two categorical variables. All the analysis will be done using SPSS software. All analysis are performed at 95% confidence level which is 5% level of significance.

Output, Result and Discussion

Table 1: Preference of Food

Figure 1: Preference of Food

We can see 40% of the student prefer fast food, 30% prefer snacks and 22% prefer homemade food. It means that the first choice of student is either fast food or snacks. Students are very less likely to prefer homemade food which is an indication to their preference of fast food instead.

Table 2: Preference of Drinks

Figure 2: Preference of Food

We can see 32% of the student prefer soda, 28% prefer alcohol, 16% prefer milk, 14% prefer water and 10% prefer Juice. It means that the first choice of student is either soda or alcohol. Students are very less likely to prefer milk or juice which are good for health.

 

Table 3: Preference of Bread

Figure 3: Preference of Bread

There is 76% of the student prefer white bread, 20% prefer wheat bread and 4% do not have any choice. Students are very less likely to prefer wheat bread which is actually good for health as compared to white bread.

 

Table 4: Preference of Vegetables/Fruits

Figure 4: Preference of Vegetables/Fruits

About 38% of the students rarely eat vegetables or fruit, 36% of the student eat vegetables or fruit once a day, 10% of the student do not eat vegetables or fruit and only 6% of the student eat vegetables or fruit with every meal. The good thing is that approximately 40% of the students eat vegetables or fruit daily which does not support the initial investigation.

Table 5: Importance of healthy food

Figure 5: Importance of healthy food

According to this data, 32% of the student have importance of healthy food, 28% of the student do not have importance of healthy food and 40% students do not have any fix opinion on the importance of healthy food.

Table 6: Importance of exercise daily

Figure 6: Importance of exercise daily

We can see 54% of the student exercise daily from 10 minutes to 1 hour and 46% of student do not do exercise at all.

From the above all analyses, we can conclude that student do not eat healthy food, healthy drinks and instead of taking healthy food, they are dependent on fast food, snacks, soda, alcohol, white bread, etc. Only 8% of student do exercise for 1 hour, 18% gives extreme importance to healthy food, 6% eat vegetables/fruits with every meal, 20% prefer wheat bread , 10% prefer juice and 22% prefer homemade food. These information reveals that students actually prefer junk food instead of healthy food.

Furthermore, in order to test the other research Hypothesis, we have performed the analysis with chi-square test in order to see whether there is any statistically significant association between preference of food and the other variables such a gender, preference of drinks… etc.

Table 7: Association between gender and preference of food

 

 

Figure 7: Association between gender and preference of food

Based on the above analysis with Chi- square test of association ,we will reject the null hypothesis and conclude that there is a statistically significant association between preference of food and gender at 5% level of significance as p-value of the chi-square test statistic is smaller than 0.05. We can see female prefer more fast food as compared to male, however male prefer more snacks as compared to female.

 

 

Table 8: Association between exercise importance and preference of food

 

 

Figure 8: Association between exercise importance and preference of food

Based on the above analysis with Chi- square test of association ,we will not be reject the null hypothesis and conclude that there is no statistically significant association between preference of food and exercise at 5% level of significance as p-value of the chi-square test statistic is bigger than 0.05. We can see student who prefer more fast food and snacks do not exercise, however student who prefer homemade food do exercise in a day time at least for 10 minutes.

 

 

Table 9: Association between exercise importance and preference of food

 

Figure 9: Association between exercise importance and preference of food

Based on the above analysis with Chi- square test of association , we will reject the null hypothesis and conclude that there is no statistically significant association between preference of food and preference of drinks at 5% level of significance as p-value of the chi-square test statistic is smaller than 0.05. We can see student who prefer more fast food and snacks also soda and alcohol, however student who prefer homemade food prefer either juice or milk the most.

Conclusion:

We can conclude that from this study that students are not aware about their health and prefer food and drinks which are not healthy. Only a small portion of student is concerned about their health and they also prefer more healthy food instead of fast food and snacks. Furthermore, there is no statistically significant association between the preference of food and neither the other variables of preference of drinks, and exercise. However, there is a statistically significant association between preference of food and gender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Counihan, C. M. (1992). Food rules in the United States: Individualism, control, and hierarchy. Anthropological Quarterly, 55-66.

Knutson, B. J. (2000). College students and fast food—: How students perceive restaurant brands. The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 41(3), 68-6.

Niemeier, H. M., Raynor, H. A., Lloyd-Richardson, E. E., Rogers, M. L., & Wing, R. R. (2006). Fast food consumption and breakfast skipping: predictors of weight gain from adolescence to adulthood in a nationally representative sample. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(6), 842-849.

Schlosser, E. (2012). Fast food nation: The dark side of the all-American meal. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 45(2), 112-125