The use and knowledge of food labels is the focus of a new survey by the kinesiology department at the university.
Nicole Toomey, lead investigator of the survey, said the goal of the survey is to determine if certain predictors affect college students’ use of food labels.
“We’re looking at food label knowledge in college students,” Toomey said. “And we’re looking at how that ties to their education and their overall nutrition knowledge.”
Toomey, a senior movement science major, came up with the idea for the survey along with Meena Shah, a professor in the kinesiology department. Their mutual interest in the health of college students as well as in food labels, led them to the idea.
Movement science seniors Mia Muller, Chase Stewart, Eric Blasco and Karl Bjorn are also helping to conduct the survey as part of their senior research project.
The background, lifestyle and previous nutrition knowledge of participants examined in the survey will help Toomey and Shah determine the validity of four “predictors” of food label use.
Shah said the main focus of the survey and the four predictors at the center of the study are the students’ knowledge of nutrition, attitude toward food labels, prior nutrition education and ability to assess food labels.
“Data from this study will be used to develop intervention studies to enhance nutrition knowledge and use of food labels to prevent weight gain among college students,” Shah said. “Many students gain weight during college years, and excess body fat among college students is linked to long-term health consequences.”
Christiana Kittelson, a senior movement science major who is also helping with the survey, said that although working on the study is required as part of the major, it provides real experience for the many researchers involved in the study.
The findings and analysis of the survey will be presented at two upcoming events. First it will be at the Honors College Symposium in early April, then it will be at the Harris College Symposium on April 18.
Participation in the study is encouraged for all university students, both undergraduate and graduate, ages 18 through 30. The study takes no more than a half hour to complete and requires only height and weight measurements in addition to survey questions, Shah said.
For more information on what the study entails or how to become involved, email Toomey at [email protected]