Study: Students skimp on fruit, veggies
Menu choices are just what mother feared, say OSU researchers
A new study has confirmed what mothers everywhere knew all along: College students don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.
The study by Oregon State University, published July 18 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that of the 582 undergraduates surveyed a majority ate less than one serving of vegetables or fruit each day, far from the recommended five to 10 daily servings.
'Knowing does not change behavior,' says Carlos Crespo, director of the School of Community Health at Portland State University. 'Students know what they're supposed to eat, but that's doesn't mean they're choosing fruits and veggies.'
Of the students in the OSU study, 172 men consumed more energy from fat and ate less healthy foods than 316 women, who were more likely to read food labels and eat breakfast. However, the men ate about five servings of fruits and vegetables each week, slightly more than the average woman in survey, who ate four servings.
Christa Giesecke, a freshman at Lewis and Clark College, notes that while her female peers are often more concerned than young men with their weight and eating right observing good dietary regimes, they are also more prone to binge eating and eating disorders.
As Crespo points out, any consideration of Portland's university health scene must take into account that three of four PSU students commute to the university that has more than 20,000 graduates and undergraduates. Commuters choose from a variety of off-campus options such as the farmers' markets and co-op stores, he says.
However, many local college students say it is difficult on a tight budget to afford fresh fruits and vegetables. Dormitory dining halls offer salad bars and fruit dishes that are hard to match when students move off campus and try to eat healthy at home.
University of Portland junior Katie Van Dyke lived on campus her freshman year and is renting her own apartment this summer after a year abroad.
'I'm cooking for myself now,' she says. 'It's hard. I have to actively plan and incorporate fruits and veggies into my diet, and they go perishable faster.'
The freedom of living away from home can also affect students, especially freshmen.
'Most kids going to college have parents that went to college and come from healthy, educated homes,' Crespo says. 'They get to college and think 'I can do whatever I want now. I can eat whatever I want.' '
Lewis and Clark senior Jeff Hall left home at 16 and has lived off campus throughout his time in college. He says that although fruit is expensive and spoils quickly, many healthy options, like beans, are cheap survival food.
His diet is a healthy mix of rice, beans and vegetables, Hall says. He cooks simply and cheaply.
'I grew up in Oregon. My parents are hippies,' he says. 'My worst eating mistake is trips to the food carts sometimes.'