Pharm.D. (six years)
physical activity; diet; shuttle; elevator; FV intake; breakfast
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Background: Studies assessing the dietary and physical activity (PA) behaviors of college students in the United States and indicate that this population is underactive and does not consume the daily-recommended servings of fruit and vegetables (F&V). Research is needed to identify factors that inhibit or promote healthful behaviors.
Objective: To determine 1) if there is an association between having a meal plan and selected dietary behaviors, and 2) whether the likelihood of using the campus shuttle and taking the stairs is associated with physical activity.
Methods: Students enrolled in an introductory anatomy class completed a voluntary online survey that assessed PA, F&V intake, likelihood of taking the campus shuttle and of using the elevator, frequency of breakfast and dessert consumption, and demographic characteristics. Students were classified by PA level (high, not high) and whether they meet the recommendation for F&V intake (yes, no). Analyses examined the association between having a meal plan and F&V intake, breakfast, and dessert consumption. Additional analyses determined the association between the likelihood of taking the elevator and campus shuttle and PA. Barriers to PA and healthful eating were also assessed.
Results: The sample (n=87) was primarily female (n=60, 69.8%) and 74.7% (n=65) of participants reported a high level of PA. The majority of students did not consume the recommended servings of F&V/day (69.0%, n=60). There was no support of a relationship between having a meal plan and F&V intake, frequency of consuming breakfast, or desserts. In addition, analyses determined that there was no association between likelihood of shuttle or elevator use and PA. Lack of time was the identified as the most significant barrier to both PA and healthful eating.
Conclusion: While most study respondents reported high levels of PA, future work may strive to ease the identified barriers to PA and continue to promote healthful exercise habits. Study results confirm that college students may benefit from interventions designed to increase F&V intake. Additional research is required to determine associations of selected aspects of the college environment with PA and F&V consumption.