Students' adherence to dietary recommendations and their food consumption habits

Nanette Stroebele-Benschop, Anastasia Dieze, Carolin Hilzendegen
Nutrition and Health 2018, 24 (2): 75-81

BACKGROUND: Habitual behavior rather than intention has been linked to food intake patterns.

AIM: The purpose of this study was to examine the adherence to dietary recommendations in university students and to analyze whether habit strength predicts food consumption.

METHODS: A student sample of the University (University of Hohenheim) was recruited ( n = 103; age range 18-30 years). Habit strength for consuming the food groups fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, meat, convenience foods, sugary and savory snacks, water and sugar-sweetened beverages was measured using a questionnaire. Food intake was measured via a self-administered online food frequency survey two weeks later, which was then compared to dietary recommendations. For associations of habit strength and consumption, Kendall's Tau-c correlation coefficient was calculated.

RESULTS: The majority of students failed to meet the recommendations for all food groups except meat, eggs, oil, fat, and water. Only 4.2% of men (15.4% of women) consumed the recommended daily amount of vegetables. Fruit recommendations were met by 20.8% of men (43.6% of women). Habit strength was significantly associated with the consumption of most food groups.

CONCLUSION: Adhering to dietary recommendations appeared to be difficult. Educational efforts should be undertaken to improve students' diet considering habit strength as an important determinant of food intake.

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