Exploring Nutritional Health

The College Student (Part 1)

I presented a closed question open response survey to over one-hundred of my fellow college students from various departments ranging from freshman to senior, male to female. The survey consists of four questions surrounding their habitual intake on grocery shopping, healthy eating, cooking, and nutritional resources. Thirteen of those students replied back and all of them female. Here are my findings based on the thirteen female responses:

The Facts

College students are drawn to grocery stores which offer competitive pricing on fresh non-processed foods. Over half of the these students desire shopping at stores that are the shortest distance from where they live as opposed to taking the bus or driving (if they have access to a motor vehicle). Stores that are local or easily accessible through public transit have priority over stores that have less expensive options or healthier options.

The majority of respondents mention the importance fresh unprocessed foods have for obtaining healthy diets, especially vegetables. Many respondents also express the body’s need for variety in a healthy diet. Here are all the “healthy” categories that the respondents refer to: Fresh (unprocessed) foods, fresh vegetables, some fruits, proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, carbohydrates, Non-GMO foods, moderation in consumption, and variety to maintain nutritional balance.

Most of the students express strong cooking skills, especially on the stove top and baking. 10 out of 13 of these students desire more time to cook every meal from scratch, while others prefer to incorporate frozen vegetables, precooked meat, canned, or boxed foods into their home cooked meals to save time. 100% of the students have basic cooking and nutritional skills.

The nutritional knowledge and eating habits for these 13 students forge from a variety of different sources. Eight of the respondents mention family as their main source. The second most common source is a tie between friends and word of mouth. The third most common source is a tie between independent internet research, various articles, and college courses. Fourth most common are from books, personal experience, Pinterest, and Facebook. The final sources are from sports, schools as a child, doctors, and Instagram.

Interpreting the Results

First and foremost, the number of the respondents is not enough to give an accurate perception for this study. The fact that every respondent is female with basic nutritional knowledge skews the results indefinitely. My survey is flawed. My mistake: using student email to conduct my survey.

Student email is a great way to reach many students at one time, however, this causes students to lose their anonymity, thus fearing personal judgments or public criticisms from a stranger who holds power over their written words. Since many of the students have never met me, this hesitation is understandable. I did not recognize this flaw until I finished the analysis of my collected data. Had I known, I would have stressed confidentiality more and used a different distribution method.

Sending the survey through student email is a great way to alleviate unwanted pressure on students. Unfortunately, a complete lack of pressure means a return on a specific audience, also known as the type of people who care enough about my topic to respond. In my study, the respondents are indeed passionate about their health and therefore have interest in my study. I love how passionate my respondents are, but I now lack the view points and data from those less enthusiastic or less knowledgeable about their health.

The study, even with its flaws, may provide insight on gender roles in college. Why is it that not one male responded? Perhaps this study shows that individuals who associate themselves more with the male gender are less interested in nutrition than those who relate more to the female gender. This may overlap with body issues, media propaganda, social expectations, and eating disorders more women than men face. I am interested to explore why males are not interested in my study on health (at some point).

Conclusion

My results direct me to a different subject of interest on the effects of gender in the health community. I find I am surprised by this new development due to the unanticipated results of my study. As for the rest of my results, I find them too biased to hold any real merit. The extremity of the narrow audience causes the collected respondent’s thoughts to become too polarized for anyone to form any educated theories. In other words, there are no theories on health in the college community beyond nutritionally educated college women that can be concluded upon from this study.

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