Essay on Nutrition

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Table of contents

  1. Importance of nutrition
  2. Food Choices
  3. Influence of nutrition education on food consumption
  4. Preference for eating fast foods
  5. Students' perspective on fast-food restaurants
  6. Bibliography

Importance of nutrition

Proper nutrition is a very important aspect of one's lifestyle (Barzegari, A., Ebrahimi, M., Azizi, M. & Ranjbar, K., 2011). The focus of nutrition is to obtain the suitable and necessary nutrition to lead a healthy life, physically and mentally. Therefore the knowledge and attitudes of people should be considered. This will eventually lead to more people being food-conscious and making healthier choices.

A group in society that is more likely to make a positive change is students, therefore nutritional education can be used to enhance their knowledge which will be helpful for the community. (Barzegari et al.) Alternatively, most students are not familiar with the healthy foods their bodies need in different conditions. (Barzegari et al.)

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Food Choices

University students are confronted with a new environment when it comes to meal preparation, planning, and eating as they change over to their university life. A number of factors play a role in their decision-making, nevertheless, the students who do have the necessary knowledge on nutrition do not always make healthy food choices. (Abraham et al.)

Stockton and Baker (2013; 2017) found that university students' main concern was the additives in the food, and not the number of calories. It was also found that male university students consumed more fast food than female university students.

Various poor eating habits have been noted among university groups in many recent studies. (Abraham, S., Noriega, B.R., & Shin, J.Y., 2018)

An experiment was conducted on vending machine sales on a university campus. It showed that many students tended to select food according to convenience, taste, time, and price rather than nutritional values. (Abraham et al.)

Influence of nutrition education on food consumption

To improve the eating habits and nutritional status of students, it is important to include compulsory forms of formal and informal education at universities. (Rodrigues et al., 2004; Schneider, 2000). In addition to education, Sichert Heller et al. (2011) stress the importance of ensuring the availability and accessibility of healthy food nearby.

Some studies confirm the theory that students' nutrition knowledge and behavior can improve with education (Lytle et al., 1996; Jaycox, Baranowski, Nader, Dworkin, & Vanderpool, 1983; Powers, Struempler, Guarino, & Parmer, 2005; Reynolds, Winton, Shewchuk, & Hickey, 1999; Shariff et al., 2008). Worsley (2002) found that nutrition education is needed, but warned that this only, cannot cause a person’s nutrition behavior to change.

Students are introduced to nutrition education early in their childhood. Information on nutrition and eating habits is passed on to children by their parents through verbal and non-verbal messages. Even though education and nutrition knowledge does not always have a direct influence on a person’s nutrition behavior, they can affect their attitudes, intentions, and some other psychic and social factors that indirectly influence their behavior (Conner & Armitage, 2002).

Attitudes are socially acquired, therefore people form and change them based on their own life experiences, knowledge, and norms presented by the environment. (Radovan, 2001).

Ajzen (1991) defined attitudes as, 'An important determinant of a person’s intentions and knowledge while assuming that stability of behavior depends on the stability of attitudes.' Based on information and knowledge on healthy eating habits, students form attitudes and intentions in reference to nutrition, which also influences their behavior.

Nutrition education intended for students has to include activities and methods to encourage and strengthen self-efficiency associated with healthy eating habits. Education gains in worth when factors limiting healthy eating are removed and students have sufficient access to healthy food. (Gracey, Stanley, Burke, Corti, & Beilin, 1996).

Restraining factors of healthy nutrition defined by Tivadar and Kamin (2005) are divided into nine groups:

  1. A lack of time and overworking;
  2. The domination of slimness;
  3. Beliefs about one's body;
  4. The high cost of healthy food;
  5. Lack of health recommendations and bad examples of the health authorities;
  6. Prevalence of risk in modern society;
  7. Lack of self-discipline;
  8. Enjoying the taste of unhealthy food;
  9. The need to be “cool”.

Preference for eating fast foods

Students are not bothered with food preparation and therefore they prefer to go out for their meals. They normally go to fast-food restaurants, mainly when there is no one to cook for them (studying away from home) and when they want to socialize. (Untaru, E.N. & Ispas, A.)

Even though students have the necessary knowledge about the nutritional value of food and its effects on their bodies, they do not act accordingly. Fast-food restaurants are popular because they serve food quite fast, are cheap, and easily substitute homemade meals. People who are normally very busy, either working or studying, find fast foods beneficial, although most know fast foods are high in fats, salt, sugar, and calories. Students do admit that it is difficult for them to change their food habits. (Untaru, E.N. & Ispas, A.)

The price is considered as the most important factor in determining a student's loyalty, followed by contact employees. The environment and the quality of food are not so important. (Voon, B.H., 2012) Qin and Prybutok (2008) studied the role of price when talking about fast-food consumers and they saw that price did not play such an important role because fast-food products are cheaper compared to other restaurants’ products. However, price plays a key role in attracting students, as they have a lower income.

Students' perspective on fast-food restaurants

The students characterize a fast-food restaurant as a friendly place, adapted to their feeding and socializing needs. In addition,” the dynamic atmosphere” is determined by lots of students who are there and whose behavior is the same. (Untaru, E.N. & Ispas, A.) As fast foods are adapted to the meticulous needs of students, they are normally thought of as being youthful, welcoming places, where a person can feel good.

Another part mentioned by students is that fast-food restaurants are more crowded than other restaurants because they are usually situated in the center, where there are a large number of customers. Added observations are that fast food represents the modern world, characterized by the lack of time. Lastly, students believe that fast-food restaurant replaces their mothers' when they cannot arrive home in time for meals, or during their daily breaks. (Untaru, E.N. & Ispas, A.)

Bibliography

  1. Abraham, S., Noriega, B.R., & Shin, J.Y. (2018). College students eating habits and knowledge of nutritional requirements. Journal of Nutrition and Human Health 2(1): 13-17.
  2. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50: 179-211.
  3. Anliker, J. A., Laus, M. J., Samonds, K. W., & Beal, V. A. (1990). Parental messages and the nutrition awareness of preschool children. Journal of Nutrition Education, 22(1): 24-29.
  4. Barzegari, A., Ebrahimi, M., Azizi, M., & Ranjbar, K. (2011). A study of nutrition knowledge, attitudes and food habits of college students. World Applied Sciences Journal, 15(7): 1012-17.
  5. Brown, O., O’Connor, L., Savaiano, D. (2017). Mobile MyPlate: A pilot study using text messaging to provide nutrition education and promote better dietary choices in college students. J Am Coll Health, 62: 320-27.
  6. Jaycox, S., Baranowski, T., Nader, P., Dworkin, R., & Vanderpool, N. (1983). Theory-based health education activities for third to sixth-grade children. Journal of School Health, 53(10): 584-588.
  7. Powers, A., Struempler, B., Guarino, A., & Parmer, S. (2005). Effect of a nutrition education program on the dietary behavior and nutrition knowledge of second-grade and third-grade students. Journal of School Health, 75(4): 129-133.
  8. Qin, H., Prybutok, V.R. (2008) Determinants of customer-perceived service quality in fast-food restaurants and their relationship to customer satisfaction and behavioral intentions. The Quality Management Journal, 15(2): 35-50.
  9. Radovan, M. (2001). What determines our behavior. Horizons of Psychology, 10(2): 101-112.
  10. Rodrigues, G., Moreno, L., Blay, M., Blay, V., Garagorri, J., Sarria, A., & Bueno, M. (2004). Body composition in adolescents:Measurements and metabolic aspects. International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders, 28(3): S54-S58.
  11. Salminen, M., Vahlberg, T., Ojanlatva, A., & Kivela, S. (2005). Effects of a controlled family-based health education/counseling intervention. American Journal of Health Behavior, 29(5): 395-406.
  12. Schneider, D. (2000). International trends in adolescent nutrition. Social Science & Medicine, 51(6): 955-967.
  13. Stockton, S., Baker, D. (2013). College students' perceptions of fast food restaurant menu items on health. Am J Health Educ, 44: 74-80.
  14. Sichert Hellert, W., Beghin, L., De Henauw, S., Grammatikaki, E., Hallström, L., Manios, Y., & Kersting, M. (2011). Nutritional knowledge in European adolescents: Results from the HELENA (healthy lifestyle in Europe by nutrition in adolescence) study. Public Health Nutrition, 14(12): 2083-2091.
  15. Untaru, E.N. & Ispas, A. (n.d). Why do young people prefer fast- food restaurants? An exploratory study. Journal of Tourism, 15: 1-3.
  16. Voon, B.H. (2012). Role of service environment for restaurants: the youth customers’ perspective. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 38: 388 – 395.
  17. Worsley, A. (2002). Nutrition knowledge and food consumption: Can nutrition knowledge change food behaviour. Asia PacificJournal of Clinical Nutrition, 11(3): S579-S585.
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