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    • PI: Dr. Christiane Schroeter
  • California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
  • Project Title:
    An Incentive-Based Health Program using MyPlate: A Pilot Study Analyzing College Students’ Dietary Intake Behavior
  • Key Findings
    Although many students are in good health at the time of college enrollment, undesirable eating habits tend to settle in during the college years. As these habits become part of a young adult’s lifestyle, they may increase risk of chronic diseases over time. Most college students fail to follow the recommendations by USDA’s nutrition guide MyPlate. One way to improve these behaviors could be through education about healthy nutrition. Nutrition education interventions may enhance dietary knowledge and the development of positive attitudes toward healthy eating. However, few interventions have been designed using the MyPlate icon by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dietary Guidelines (DGs), In our intervention study, we aimed to determine whether dietary education, incentivized by financial rewards, is effective in achieving improved dietary intake behavior of college students. For four weeks, 75 undergraduate (18-24 years old) non-nutrition major students participated in weekly meetings which focused on MyPlate information and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). In addition, a control group, which did not partake the weekly meetings, participated in the study. Both groups took an online survey that assessed the students’ knowledge and dietary behavior pre and post the nutrition education sessions. The respondents’ compliance with the recommended intake of each MyPlate food group and the individual Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score determined their diet quality. Students who received four education sessions showed the most improvement with regard to their health knowledge and dietary behavior. These respondents tripled their average per capita consumption of whole grains and increased their fruit and vegetable intakes. Our results show that educating college students to work toward improving their diets may have positive effect on their health behaviors.
  • Presentations
    • Schroeter, C and B. Brookes. “Empirical Analysis of an Incentive-Based Health Program with College Students.” Track session paper, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, Boston, MA July 30-August 2, 2016.