Nutrition knowledge among a predominantly Hispanic college population

Heather Sandford, University of Texas at El Paso


Many chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer are prevalent and have been associated with unhealthy eating patterns. At the same time overweight and obesity are contributing factors to the development of these conditions. There are multiple factors contributing to overweight and obesity. Some of these include a frequent consumption of unhealthy or high energy-dense foods combined with the lack of physical activity. A true understanding and foundation of proper nutrition allows people to make healthy eating choices. It has been documented that among the population, college students have a limited nutrition knowledge that could prevent them from making healthy eating choices. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans are released every five years and provide Americans with recommendations for healthy food and beverage choices. Adopting these recommendations can prevent the development of many nutrition related conditions such as overweight and obesity. Many times college students adopt unhealthy eating habits that might be carried out through adulthood resulting in a high prevalence of overweight and obesity that could result in the development of chronic diseases. The purpose of this descriptive study was to assess the nutrition knowledge with respect to healthy foods and nutrition-related diseases of a predominantly Hispanic college student population living in the U.S.-Mexico border region. A 25-item nutrition knowledge survey was developed and tested for reliability producing an ? (alpha) score of 0.837. A total of 207 college students from 7 different disciplines participated in the study. Overall, it was found that the mean percentage of correct answers was 74.39% ± 11.12. There was not a significant difference in overall scores between gender but a significance difference between students who had taken a college level nutrition course (n = 23) versus those who had never taken a nutrition course (n = 184) was revealed. There was a significant difference in the mean percentage of correct answers between students enrolled in science based disciplines vs student from non-science based disciplines. Including the students who had taken a nutrition course, there was a significant difference between students enrolled in health sciences (p = 0.022) and science (p =0.008), versus those enrolled in education. After controlling for students who had previously taken a nutrition course (n = 23) there was a significant difference between scores from students enrolled in education and science disciplines (p = 0.012) and liberal arts and science disciplines (p = 0.041). Strengths of this study included access to a large population and the use of a reliable survey. Limitations of the study included convenient sampling therefore, results cannot be generalized for all college students. Also, the sample size was not equally balanced in regards to gender which may have affected the results when looking at gender differences. The results of this study show a trend of college students lacking proper nutrition knowledge. Evidence suggests that taking a nutrition course would increase nutrition knowledge which may help students achieve/maintain a healthy diet.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Hispanic American studies|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Sandford, Heather, "Nutrition knowledge among a predominantly Hispanic college population" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10143755.