Date of Award

Summer 7-2-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Anita Nucci

Abstract

Background: With overweight and obesity rates steadily increasing, methods to reduce these numbers are being explored. Research has found that short-term, point-of-selection interventions are effective in improving the overall eating habits of college students.

Objective: To examine how a point-of-selection intervention at The Freshman Dining Hall at Georgia State University (GSU) impacts student menu selections.

Methods: All subjects used an electronic menu at the entrance of the GSU Freshman dining hall. During the baseline period, students selected the foods that they intended to eat during the meal. During the intervention phase, the menu view included calculated food health scores for each food/beverage item. Upon exiting the dining hall, students entered the foods that they actually consumed.

Participants/setting: The study recruited freshmen students and student athletes who have an unlimited meal plan at the Freshman Dining Hall. Students under the age of 18 were excluded.

Statistical analysis: Frequency analysis was conducted to describe the demographic and anthropometric characteristics of the population. Median entry scores were compared by demographic and anthropometric characteristics using the Independent Samples Median Test. Median health scores were determined at baseline and during the intervention phase for each meal. Median scores were compared using the Wilcoxon sign rank test to determine if there was a difference before and after the intervention. All statistical analyses were performed using SPSS v18.0. Statistical significance was set at P<0.05.

Results: A total of 26 students participated in the study (46.7% female, 26.7% Caucasian). The mean age was 19 + 2.5 years and the mean BMI was 24.2 + 4.8 kg/m2. During the baseline period, the median health scores at breakfast, lunch, and dinner were 55.41 and 76.10 and 77.53, respectively. During the intervention phase, the median entry health score for breakfast and lunch were 68.33 and 73.88, compared to exit scores of 67.24 and 63.24, respectively. No exit menu items were entered for dinner during the intervention. The mean difference between the entry and exit health scores at breakfast was -1.1, while the difference at lunch was 4.54. Neither of the differences was statistically significant.

Conclusion: The digital menu with point-of-selection health scores did not result in consumption of healthier foods, particularly at lunch. Additional point-of-selection nutrition interventions should be examined to determine what type of information is most effective with college students in the all-you-can-eat buffet style college dining hall.

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