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Literature Analysis

Kelsey Wehr
Trine University

As obesity is a growing health problem in our nation, it is imperative that action is taken
to limit or prevent this issue from expanding. Within the health science field, nutrition proves to
be a topic of immense value due to this expanding issue. In order to lower the obesity rate,
nutritional knowledge needs to be spread in order to make consumers more aware of what types
of foods they are putting into their bodies as well as the effects that each type of food will play,
short term and long term. If nutritional information is published, will it be used to its fullest
potential? Will increased nutritional knowledge change consumer food choice for the better?
These questions flood the health science field and various articles in publication have made
attempts at providing results, yet no definitive answers have been found.

Perception of nutrition
As obesity proves to be the main health issue in the United States, seemingly doubling its
rates over the past twenty years, added attention should be given to the effects of good nutrition.1
Current studies show that this is not the case when it comes to college students. Choosing
nutritious foods is a low priority compared to picking up an item that is convenient, cheap, and
tastes good.2,3 Particularly within the group of female collegiate athletes, nutrition gets set to the
side as more focus is aimed at making weight and increasing performance. Due to pressure from
coaches, female athletes tend to view nutrition and food intake as an optional routine.3,4
Corresponding with female athletes, college students often negatively pair diet and nutrition.
Students may diet, depriving themselves of crucial nutrients, as a way to look good quickly.5
Unfortunately, all of these common perceptions of what nutrition is, how it affects the human

body, how important it is, give the wrong idea. These views make eating or not eating too easy
instead of beneficial.
Evolving requirements and knowledge of nutrition
Nutritional requirements are ever changing throughout a persons lifetime.6 A child does
not require the same amount of nutrients and energy as that of an adult male. A collegiate athlete
requires a different amount of nutrient intake compared to a general college student. More often
than not, it is found that athletes do not consume the necessary dietary components to fulfill their
energy needs.3,7 For the general population, carbohydrates, protein, and fat make up 55%, 20%,
and 25% of daily consumption. Athletes, however, have varying needs based on their increased
energy expenditure.8 Because athletes participate in a more vigorous level of physical activity on
a daily basis compared to the general public, they require a diet that is composed of higher
amounts of daily nutrients. Athletes expend more energy so they have to consume enough energy
dense foods in order to supply that need.
Not only is it common for college students and athletes to not know what their bodies
need to function, it has also been discovered that the majority do not know nutritional basics,
such as what types of foods key nutrients can be found, what to search for on food labels, or how
a portion size should look.1,2,8 This lack of nutritional education hinders the gravity of nutrition.
If the importance of good nutrition is not emphasized, students will assume the subject is not
important and does not hold value in their lives. If nutrition is not taught to students, why should
they think healthy eating is vital?
Effects of nutritional guidelines
Nutrition labels, found on all processed and treated food items, are only useful when a
consumer understands what he/she is looking at and when these labels are readily available.

Alison Witte 3/16/15 12:01 PM

Comment [1]: This is still an awkward phrase.
What do you mean here and do you need this? Or
is the next sentence sufficient to communicate
your point?

Knowing what nutrients and in what quantities compose the foods that individuals eat can stray
consumers from some types of food and aim them towards others.2 Knowledge on athletic
nutrition has grown over the past ten years and findings positively correlate how an athlete eats
to how he/she performs.3 Athlete or non-athlete, if a food label is inspected, the most notable
component is calories.2 Even if a consumer learns what to look for on a label, that luxury may
not always be available. Few restaurants and mass dining facilities, such as cafeterias, present the
nutritional make-up of their meals.1 Because of such issues, knowledge of nutrition is essential to
making healthy decisions.
Few studies complete
Although nutrition proves to be a key topic in the health science field, too few studies
have been completed to give full validity to any findings from research.1-8 If a study was
completed using college students, it was probably not done on a large enough scale to make a
general statement about college students. If such a study were completed, the results could also
not be generalized to include the entire population. More research needs to be done with concern
to nutrition.

The research has proved that nutritional knowledge and guidelines play an important role
in making healthy food choices as a college student. However, other factors such as convenience,
money, and athletics, specifically the physical requirements of a sport, often overrule positive
and healthy food choices. Until more research is conducted and more knowledge is spread on the
importance of nutrition, at the collegiate level and beyond, nothing substantial will be done
concerning the obesity epidemic sweeping our nation.

Looking specifically at the health science field, the most important view that can be taken
from this research as a whole is that the nutritional choices currently being made are mainly due
to the lack of knowledge of what is truly healthy, and to the idea that a nutritional diet is an
option. This view is most important to the health science field currently because immediate
action is necessary in order to counteract similar thoughts and actions in the future to make for a
healthier society. This stance has been reached due to the numerous surveys and experiments
completed that demonstrate that college students do not know what a nutritional diet should
consist of, do not view nutritious choices as vital components of their lives, and do not choose
nutrition over other factors, such as athletics or time, as a key to their future. In order to change
this pattern, knowledge needs to be spread about what nutrition really is and an emphasis needs
to be placed on the effects of a healthy diet.

1. Kolodinsky J, Green J, Michahelles M, Harvey-Berino JR. The use of nutritional labels
by college students in a food-court setting. Journal of American College Health. 2008; 57
(3): 297-301.
2. Kicklighter JR, Koonce VJ, Rosenbloom CA, Commander NE. College freshman
perceptions of effective and ineffective aspects of nutrition education. Journal of
American College Health. 2010; 59 (2): 98-104.
3. Dunn D, Turner LW, Denny G. Nutrition Knowledge and Attitudes of College Athletes.
The Sport Journal. 2007; 10 (4).
4. Heffner JL, Ogles BM, Gold E, Marsden K, Johnson M. Nutrition and eating in female
college athletes: A survey of coaches. Eating Disorders. 2003; 11: 209-220.
5. Snelling AM, Schaffer M, Lehrhoff S. Diet and nutrition patterns of college females:
Implications for college health educators. American Journal of Health Education. 2002;
33 (6): 357-361.
6. McNaughton S. Understanding food and nutrition-related behaviours: Putting together
the pieces of the puzzle. Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012; 69: 80-83.
7. Abood DA, Black DR, Birnbaum RD. Nutrition education intervention for college female
athletes. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2004; 36 (3): 135-139.
8. Shriver LH, Betts NM, Wollenburg G. Dietary intakes and eating habits of college
athletes: Are female college athletes following the current sports nutrition standards?
Journal of American College Health. 2013; 61(1): 10-16.