This report provides a critical assessment of the challenges encountered by students in the UTS Business School. More specifically, it will focus on the development of eating habits as university students transition from secondary education to tertiary education. Methods of research include recounting from my Integrating Business Perspectives group members and academic journal articles.
Results of research undertaken suggest it is probable that eating habits are likely to change as students transition from high school to university. This report recommends a new business model to address the underlying issue of unhealthy eating habits to improve the well-being of students in the UTS Business school. However, it should be noted that the research conducted is limited by small sample size (n=3).
The necessity of a regimented schedule challenges the eating habits of university students as they prioritize convenience instead of healthy eating. As a result, students will often choose to purchase high-fat and high-calorie food at fast food joints and other takeaway restaurants. This issue is a recurring theme in the sample of students interviewed that attend UTS Business School. For example, despite having brought his own lunch during secondary education, Ali notes that due to “never having enough time to pack my own stuff” he now tends to “eat whatever’s available” and McDonald’s and KFC are likely options. Moreover, Ali claims that this habit can arise due to stress caused by the different lifestyles of tertiary education. Similarly, Matteo previously had regimented and healthy meals while attending high school but now finds himself eating at sushi and fast food joints due to the quick service and accessible distance from campus. Matteo also claims that this behavior is further perpetuated by other friends who also choose to eat out.
In contrast, Mariam packs her own lunch consisting of a sandwich, fruits, and water on most days. She claims that this is most convenient for her as she can avoid the queues at hot food joints and can also have something “quick to eat” while traveling between classes. This difference in behavior may be due to differing perspectives of convenience. Ali and Matteo may value the convenience of not having to prepare meals, while Mariam may value the convenience of having food on hand between her classes. However, Mariam also opts to purchase food on other days at locations that are “most convenient” such as kebab shops and bakeries. Based on the primary research conducted on my fellow peers, it is apparent that the need for convenience by UTS Business School students can hurt one’s eating habits. Ultimately, the primary research conducted shows a reorientation in dietary requirements following university matriculation, resulting in harmful eating behaviors and highlighting the need for a new business model.
As the need for work-life balance increases during the transition from high school to university, an incessant need for more time challenges healthy eating habits. Musaiger et al. (2014) and Pelletier & Laska (2012) identify a lack of time due to studies as a fundamental obstacle to healthy eating habits. Hence, it is only expected that students report a substantial intake of high-fat and high-calorie foods (Racette et al. 2005; Brevard & Ricketts 1996; Driskell et al. 2005) as they seek the convenience of fast food outlets and takeaway restaurants. This theory is similar to the experiences of all subjects during primary research. Marquis (2005) outlines the two dimensions of convenience, time and energy. Both characteristics are identified in a list of the most common barriers to a healthy diet, which includes time constraints, increasing costs of food products, and their availability, followed by an absence of motivation in food preparation (Allom & Mullan 2014; Ashton et al. 2017). Additionally, other elements connected to negligent eating habits among university students include a higher perception of stress (Cartwright et al. 2003) and social pressure (Menozzi et al. 2015) as further reinforced by a study on the powerful effects of social conformity on how we eat (Pliner et al. 2007). Similar to Matteo’s experiences, the study determines that individuals eating in a group will consume similar types and amounts of food as those around them. Therefore, suggesting that surrounding peers and their unhealthy eating habits can influence our own dietary decisions in a social context. Ultimately, secondary research conducted confirms the need for a new business model as students’ eating habits are especially susceptible during their transition to university.
Conclusively, both primary and secondary research highlights the imperative need for a new business model that can offer healthy and convenient alternatives to fast food at UTS Business School. It is evident that students are especially susceptible during the process of transitioning from secondary education to tertiary education due to the drastic change in environment, lifestyle differences, and the influence of peers. Students find it challenging to balance their meals with the stress and lack of time caused by an increased workload, resulting in potentially negative impacts on their health in the long term.