The Longer the Semester the Worse the Snacks
Public Health Nutrition, 16:7
11 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2016
Date Written: July 17, 2011
Background: Snacks, stress, and parties all contribute to the weight gain – the elusive “Freshman 15” – that some college-goers unfortunately experience. This report examines how ala cart snack choice changes on a university campus during each progressing week of the academic calendar.
Methods: The data were collected from the three largest cafeterias (or dining halls) on Cornell University’s campus during 4 semesters (Fall 2006, Spring 2007, Fall 2007 and Spring 2008), for 18 weeks in each semester. After the ala cart snack items were divided into healthy snacks and less healthy snacks, percentage share for each food grouping category was calculated. Data were analyzed in 2011.
Results: Within each semester, the less healthy food choices consistently increased 0.4% per week (beta=-0.00356, P<0.01). Furthermore, a sharp (8%) increase occurred in the final two weeks of the semester. In contrast, healthy food choices decreased almost 4% (beta=-0.0398, P<0.01) in the final two weeks during the fall semester.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate an increased demand for hedonic, less healthy snack foods as the college semesters progress, and in particular at the very end of the semester. To counter this tendency toward less healthy snacking, cafeterias and stores should reserve extra effort to promote healthy alternatives during the later weeks of the semesters.
Keywords: Food sales, Snack choice, Stress, Food Choice, College cafeterias, snacking, weight gain
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