NS Curriculum Project
April 28, 1999
Nutrition and Alexander Dinning Hall
The USDA administration in the latest results from 1990 reported almost 1/3 of all American adults are overweight as compared to _ of the adult population in 1970 (1). College is a time period where for the first time young adults living away from home have complete control over their food consumption choices. During this time students are developing eating habits that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Studies show that the average American now consumes more food, more snacks, bigger portions, and more calories than in 1978 (4). In 1993 consumption of added fat and oils in America reached an all time high level of 70lbs a year per average person. Caloric sweeteners are also at startling high levels. In 1996 studies showed that the average American in a year consumes 152 lbs. of added sweeteners such as fructose and sucrose. This is approximately 47 teaspoons of added sugar per person per day. The recommended amount of added sugar by the American Dietary Association is 10 teaspoons a day. These latest USDA figures show that the eating habits currently practiced are placing people at risk for health problems later in life (4).
While more and more Americans are practicing over consumption the World Health Organization recently estimated 1/5 of all children under 5 are currently undernourished (1). This undernourishment causes 250,000 children a year to go blind specifically from the lack of Vitamin A present in their diets (2). Adults in the world do not fare much better then the children. Research has shown that 27% of African, 42% of Asians, and 12% of Latin Americans suffer from malnutrition currently. However this current figures are an improvement over recent years. Since 1950 in China and India which, represents approximately 40% of the worldís population daily calorie intake has increased 30% (1). Based on 1992 data it is estimated that only 32 million people are facing famine now as compared to 700 million in 1955. That is a 95% decrease (2). Conditions around the world are improving but the data still proves that Americans are over-consuming while most of the world remains undernourished.
The purpose for our investigation of nutrition in Alexander Dining Hall is to make college students here at Miami University develop a greater awareness of what they are eating and the nutritional quality of food provided by the dining halls. Alexander Dining Hall is a typical dining hall at the University offering Miami Traditions, Vegetarian, Sonora Stop, and Potato Bar for food selection. The goal of our project is to have students take the time to evaluate the nutrition when selecting food and to become more educated consumers.
In order to evaluate nutrition at Alexander we choose to use the recently created Daily Reference Intake Guide as a basis of evaluation. The guide serves as a standard for an ideal daily consumption of 2000 calories for the average person. The 2000 calories a day diet has been deemed by the American Dietary Association to be ideal for the healthy maintenance of proper weight. Using the guide fat grams consumed for a day should not exceed 60 grams. Protein intake for an average adult should be within the range of 50 to 60 grams a day. Finally, daily carbohydrate consumption should be 300 grams a day (3).
Our hypothesis was that students at the dining hall for dinner would consume more fat grams then recommended for an entire day. Further we conjectured that calorie intake would also exceed daily recommendations. Finally, we postulated that protein consumption would be below 1/3 of the recommended daily requirement.
Materials and Methods:
1.Questionaire sheet (We used 100 copies)
2. Pens for Subjects to Use
3. Nutritional Information provided by the dining hall
including portion size, calories, protein,
carbohydrates, and fat
information of foods offered at the dinning hall.
4.Daily Nutritional Guidelines based off the 2000
calorie daily consumption.
6. Statistics Program
1. Students obtain the nutritional information of food being served at the dining hall that night and record it.
2. Create a survey (or use the one we provided)
3. All students pass out surveys to people dining and also have them record what they ate that night. (We choose every table to participate because the dining hall was only moderately busy)
4. Collect Surveys
5. Students analyze the data collected
Read Nutritional Information
Never Almost Never Sometimes Most of the Time Always
17 20 18 5 5
Nutritional Information Affects Meal Selection
Never Almost Never Sometimes Most of the Time Always
26 13 15 6 5
Never Occasionally 1-2 a week 3-4 a week 5-6 a week 7 a week
20 21 5 8 10 5 2
People on a Diet Before 28 Women 4 Men
People never on a Diet Before 17 Women 17 Men
How Many Diets People have Placed themselves on
1 to 2 3 to 4 5 to 6 7 to 8 9 to 10 above 10
Women 1 1 0 0 0 2
Men 5 8 6 0 1 6
Fat grams consumed was on average 2.7 times higher then was estimated to be consumed by participants
Calories consumed were on average age 1.9 times higher then was estimated to be consumed by participants
Discussion and Conclusions:
Our results showed that students on average were consuming in one meal 98% of the daily requirement for fat intake. This result is consistent with our hypothesis. However, the study also showed that an average 113% of the protein requirements was consumed during dinner at Alexander. This rejected our hypothesis of less then 1/3 of daily consumption. Calorie consumption was 59% of the daily requirement, which is still too high for one meal but did not meet our prediction of over 2000 calories for one meal. Carbohydrate intake was 44% of the daily requirement. Due to the fact we do not have knowledge of what the subjects ate the rest on the day it is hard to predict is carbohydrate consumption is in excess or within the recommended guidelines. Men on average consumed more calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat then women did. Omnivores ingested more calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat then the vegetarians surveyed.
The eating habits the study reveled are consistent with that of greater America. The vast majority of students did not read nutritional information provided by the dining hall. Even if they did read the material meal selection for the majority was not affected by the information provided. 41 students surveyed admitted they never or only rarely exercising compared to that of 28 students who exercised at least once a week. Our survey also revealed that 62% of women have placed themselves on a diet while only 19% of men had but that men on average consume more then women do. This may be an indication of societal pressures at work.
If we were to further this investigation we would wish to track all the meals the subjects ate in a day. This would allow us to determine how much over-consumption was occurring here at Miami. We would wish to gather information from other dining halls on campus that offer different meal choices and compare students who eat primarily at one dining hall. This would be especially beneficial in comparing intakes of dining halls that do not offer a vegetarian line and how that effects vegetarian and omnivore intake. Comparison of International students vs. American students would also be useful to perform as well as the comparison of different races. Do International students who have been brought up in a country with different eating habits hold onto those eating habits while in the States? A joint study with other Universities to compare our daily intakes with those of other schools and the different meal choice offered to students would be beneficial. We would also recommend expanding the categories we compared to include vitamins, minerals, and sugar. More data would allow for a greater understanding of the nutritional practices being utilized.
This study left us with a good sense of the amounts students were consuming during one dinner at a Miami Dinning Hall. The results showed that on average most students were consuming too much fat, protein, and calories for one meal. However, there exists more questions concerning nutrition here at Miami and at other Universities. It is our desire for students next year to look at our study and continue on with the investigation in hopes of better educating their peers. We hope that the students presented with the results of our study gained a better understanding about the food that they were obtaining from the dining halls. It is possible to practice healthy eating habits while going to college but it requires knowledge and attention to what one eats.
1."A half-century Perspective on World Nutrition and the International Nutrition
Agencies" Nutritional Reviews. Washington: Aug 1997.
2."Conserving Habitat, Feeding Humanity" Forum for Applied Research and Public
Policy. Knoxville: Summer 1998
4. Putnam, Judy. "Americans consuming more grains and vegetables" Food Review.
Washington: Sep-Dec 1997.
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