2011-2012 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: Research on the food environment has begun to disentangle the interdependence between the individual and their neighborhood. However, little research has focused on college students and their food shopping habits in relation to dietary and weight status. The aim of this study was to determine the association between 1) store purchases; 2) frequency of shopping; and 3) amount spent on food with dietary and weight status among college age students.
Methods: College students were recruited to participate in a cross-sectional survey in spring of 2012. A total of 167 students responded to the online survey. Multivariate linear regression and multinomial regression was used to model the association between diet, weight and food shopping habits.
Results: Those who purchase fruits and vegetables often have a 2 unit lower BMI compared to those who purchase fruits and vegetable less often (-2.14 95% CI [-1.04, -0.10]). Those who spend $20-$30 per visit on food, purchase less types of fruits and vegetables (-0.54 95% CI [-0.82, -0.27], but also less salty snacks (-0.27 95% CI [-0.53,-0.02]), and prepared food (-0.32 95% CI [-0.52, -0.12]) compared to those who spend more. Conversely, those who spend more than $80 per visit on food, purchase more types of fruits and vegetables (0.23 95% CI [0.04, 0.46]) compared to those who spend less.
Conclusion: Future interventions and policies aimed at improving dietary and weight status among college students may need to consider food shopping habits and amount spent on food as a way to improve health outcomes.