Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biological Science

First Advisor

Ingrid Lofgren

Abstract

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of death in young adults and at least half of college students ages 18-24 have CHD risk factor. Unhealthy dietary choices made by college students contribute to the development of CHD risk factors. Eighty-percent of heart disease is preventable through diet and lifestyle and college students are ideal targets for prevention efforts since they are in the process of establishing lifestyle habits, which track forward into adulthood. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide evidence for the need to target this age group before disease progression occurs and to present the results of a population-based intervention to increase whole grains and improve CHD factors in college students. Manuscript 1 “Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors in College Students” is a narrative review paper highlighting the need for improved heart disease risk assessment and awareness in college students. This review provides pathological evidence along with current risk factor prevalence data to demonstrate the need for early detection. The impact of diet is addressed and population-based strategies are presented as cost-effective ways to produce wide-scale risk reduction. Manuscript 2 “A Population-Based Nutrition Intervention to Increase Whole Grain Intake in College Students” is a primary research paper on the impact of a nutrition messaging intervention in campus dining halls. Results indicate that a 6-week messaging intervention in campus dining halls had a positive impact on whole grain consumption and on HDL-C in college students. Future research should focus on population-based approaches on college campuses to prompt students to make healthier selections.

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