Assessing the factors that influence the food choices of college commuter students
Miller, Amanda (Graduate student of nutrition)
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This cross-sectional study examined the factors that influence the food choices of college commuter students. An online survey was distributed to all undergraduate students 18 years or older who lived outside of the county that encompasses the university and were full-time (n=7,056). A total of 221 eligible students completed the survey. Multinomial cumulative and binary logistic regressions were used to examine the relationship between various factors and the healthiness of participants' diets. Additionally, Wilcoxon signed rank sum test was used to analyze the importance of specific variables on the food choices of participants. Cost, convenience, and health concerns appeared to influence the food choices of commuter students significantly more than weight control (p<0.001). Students who were more influenced by health (p=0.019) and those who lived with their parents (p=0.014) were more likely to bring food from home, which has been previously associated with higher dietary quality. The majority (91%) of participants failed to meet any or only met one nutrient recommendation. Based on these results, commuter students appear to have inadequate diets and are most influenced by cost, convenience, and health when making food choices. Therefore, nutrition interventions that focus on providing commuter students with education about how to eat healthy on a limited budget and minimal time for food preparation are needed.