In our world of ever growing technology and convenience it is making it easier for people to find themselves eating unhealthy foods. The typical college campus, whether it is a community college or four year college, is a prime example. Between homework, tests to study for, and jobs the college student’s life is hectic. And when it comes to finding something to eat during those hectic hours of the day, the students tend to find themselves navigating toward the quickest and cheapest sources of food, which coincidently are all the unhealthy options.
But what the students may not notice is that some of the healthier options can cost about the same and take about the same time to purchase and consume. The problem is that these options are not being promoted to the same degree as the unhealthy options, which is why Del Mar should promote healthier food options in the dining hall as to encourage better eating habits. Obesity in our nation is a problem that is always brought up when speaking about nutrition. According to the Journal of American College Health, “The prevalence of obesity in US college-aged people was 12% in 1998, but increased to as high as 36% in 2004. (Gills) With the percentage of obesity rising it is apparent that something should be done to educate students in or draw attention to the healthy way to eat.
“Strong et al suggest that the college environment is conducive to overconsumption because of the ready availability of energy-dense foods, which may be contributing to the increased prevalence of obesity. In addition, Knaust and Foster found that college students have difficulty in accurately selecting appropriate serving sizes. (Gills) Dining halls at most colleges are set up like a buffet so the students are welcome to take as much as they wish to buy or feel they can consume, but with this comes the responsibility of only getting as much as you need and not over doing it. Though it seems the average students eating habits are far from nutritional. Most of the foods the students ingest are junk foods that have loads of sugar and cards in them. Most college student’s diets consist of high fat and low in any nutritional value. “They typically consume high intakes of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and low fiber intake.
Few college students eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. ”(Gills) The students tend to navigate toward pizza and other junk foods that do nothing for their body because with all the stress and lack of time students chose what they eat based on “taste, time, convenience, and cost, rather than nutritional value. ” (Evans) They pass up all the foods that help their body in exchange for foods that satisfy their taste buds. They over eat the things that are bad for their bodies and do not eat enough of the things that are nutritional for them.
My main focus is to address the lack of promotional items for the healthy section of the food court on campus. Starting with the east campus dining hall, I would like to see some improvement in that area. When you enter the dining hall you are met with the claimer of voices and the smell of food. Right off the bat you catch the smell of hamburger and fries as well as whatever else is being made that day. From the start you are attracted to the familiar smell of the unhealthy all American meal. And yet the healthy options go almost unnoticed.
The actual serving area is ? unhealthy options including foods like chips, burgers, chicken fried steak, French fries, pizza, soda, and whatever happens to be the special for the day. Not to mention the vast supply of vending machines that riddles the campus grounds. The healthier foods are in a station of to the corner of the serving area. Here they serve chicken/tuna salads, veggie wraps and other healthier options with your choice of what vegetables you would like to put on them, and of course there is the salad bar.
It is easy to tell what they students are eating from the lines that form at the different serving stations, the pizza and hamburger is a rather popular station as well as the “home style” station that offers homelike meals. But the station that serves the healthier foods has far less people visiting it. Whilst observing these stations during the lunch rush hour I noticed maybe ten people visit the healthy station and the rest b-line it for the pizza station and the other options.
I spoke before about food choices being about time and convenience, but when it comes to time most of the food options both healthy and unhealthy take about the same amount of time. And when it comes to price you can get a burger with fries and a drink for less than eight dollars or you could get a chicken salad sandwich with a drink for the same price. The problem in which is surfacing is, are students aware of the healthier options and what they can do for you? With the lack of resourceful charts explaining the nutritional qualities of the different food options you would assume they are not.
Most college students or just people in general, do not use the nutrition labels to determine what they eat. (Nurliyana) Instead they rely on taste or just personal preference to decide what they would like to eat. But this does not always result in the healthiest option being chosen. According to a study done by Southern Illinois University, “Two thirds of respondents reported they were aware of nutrition labels posted within the college dining hall, whereas one third reported using them to guide their food choices. (Gills) though there may be nutrition labels around the serving area it is shown that the students do not use these in their day to day decision making process, so how can we draw more attention to these useful charts? In the study conducted by the Southern Illinois University they can up with a survey that gathered information that gave them a general sense of what the student population eats and how often they eat in the dining area. With the results of their survey they were able to draw conclusions that aided in the process of finding different ways to introduce the healthy foods to the student population.
And by using the results from this survey they were able to create a way to bring more attention to the healthier food in their establishment. They group used social marketing to help make the move toward healthier food options. “Social marketing may be an effective environmental strategy to promote nutrition knowledge and awareness to college students. Whereas traditional marketing aims to satisfy consumer needs and wants, social marketing seeks to change the target group’s attitudes and/or behaviors, including thoughts, actions, or values. (Gills) With social marketing you could change the way students think about what they eat. And by changing the way they thought about what the ate it transferred to their food choices outside of the college’s dining hall and into their home, allowing them to eat healthier all the time. In their study they used bright colored charts and good placement to enhance the effectiveness of their methods, “Benefit-based messages are positive phrases that address specific motivations of the target population such as taste, body leanness, having more energy, or overall health.
Effectiveness was attributed to colorful graphics and a “professional look. ” Because college students have grown up with flashy, high-quality marketing, it is essential that “marketing” of healthy food selections on a college campus compares to promotions they are accustomed to in other settings. Strategic placement of benefit-based messages was also a key to success. ”(Gills) If we were to use the same method here on the Del Mar campus we too could achieve the same results. By placing color coded charts and graphic deigns we could draw attention away from the unhealthy foods and toward the better options.
On these chart we could show each food item or beverage item and its nutritional value. Students could use these chart to determine what they wanted to eat that day and make better decisions on what it was they thought was healthy. With just a simple piece of paper you could change a student’s life for the better. But where might we get the money to pay for the new charts and such? The solution is very simple. Currently Del Mar allows students to print out fifty pages per day at the library.
Well if for one day you restricted it to only twenty five per student you would save half of what is used daily, and with the amount of students who attend Del Mar you would only have to do that one day in order to be able to print all the charts and flyers needed to promote the healthier foods. And if the student needs to print out more that their twenty five pages simply charge them five cents per extra page they print. Having the student pay the five cents covers the cost of replacing the charts and promotional flyer when needed.
When it comes to the placement of the chart and promotional flyer, it would be best to distribute them throughout the dining hall. The charts would do best to be located at the corresponding serving stations. For each station have the chart color coded on its level of nutrition. By improving Del Mar’s students eating habits, we will not only improve their health but their lives as a whole. By using the method of social marketing we could improve the problem of obesity in our colleges, starting with Del Mar.
First step is to draw attention to what is best for you to eat and to get more students to try it. The goal is the get college students to replace a portion of the junk food they eat with healthier option that are better for them. Hopefully in the future this method can be used to not only help college but help our nation in its fight against obesity.
Lynn Gill, et al. “Positive Changes In Perceptions And Selections Of Healthful Foods By College Students After A Short-Term Point-Of-Selection Intervention At A Dining Hall. ” Journal Of American College Health 58. (2010): 425-431. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Nannette Evans Commander, et al. “College Freshmen Perceptions Of Effective And Ineffective Aspects Of Nutrition Education. ” Journal Of American College Health 59. 2 (2010): 98-104. ERIC. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Nurliyana, G. , M. N. Norazmir, and M. I. Khairil Anuar. “Knowledge, Attitude And Practices Of University Students Regarding The Use Of Nutritional Information And Food Labels. ” Asian Journal Of Clinical Nutrition 3. 3 (2011): 1-13. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Sept. 2012.