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Open AccessArticle

College Students and Eating Habits: A Study Using An Ecological Model for Healthy Behavior

Department of Food and Drug, University of Parma, 43124 Parma, Italy
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Tecnológico de Monterrey, EGADE Business School, San Pedro Garza García 66269, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(12), 1823;
Received: 15 September 2018 / Revised: 19 October 2018 / Accepted: 20 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Behaviours during Young Adulthood)
Overweightness and obesity rates have increased dramatically over the past few decades and they represent a health epidemic in the United States (US). Unhealthy dietary habits are among the factors that can have adverse effects on weight status in young adulthood. The purpose of this explorative study was to use a qualitative research design to analyze the factors (barriers and enablers) that US college students perceived as influencing healthy eating behaviors. A group of Cornell University students (n = 35) participated in six semi-structured focus groups. A qualitative software, CAQDAS Nvivo11 Plus, was used to create codes that categorized the group discussions while using an Ecological Model. Common barriers to healthy eating were time constraints, unhealthy snacking, convenience high-calorie food, stress, high prices of healthy food, and easy access to junk food. Conversely, enablers to healthy behavior were improved food knowledge and education, meal planning, involvement in food preparation, and being physically active. Parental food behavior and friends’ social pressure were considered to have both positive and negative influences on individual eating habits. The study highlighted the importance of consulting college students when developing healthy eating interventions across the campus (e.g., labeling healthy food options and information campaigns) and considering individual-level factors and socio-ecological aspects in the analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: young adults; focus group; USA; interventions; overweight; qualitative studies young adults; focus group; USA; interventions; overweight; qualitative studies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sogari, G.; Velez-Argumedo, C.; Gómez, M.I.; Mora, C. College Students and Eating Habits: A Study Using An Ecological Model for Healthy Behavior. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1823.

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