With privilege comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes independence. College students are lucky enough to get a break from home, gain freedom, and experience life for themselves. We have all heard of the “Freshman 15”, and how lack of exercise and nutritional food often times leads to weight gain. Researchers at two universities in the U.S. examined college students’ perception of some key nutrition terms; including meal, snack, and real meal. The researchers gathered 20 students for a study to help them create clear survey questions. This survey was then given to almost 630 undergraduate students via email, and included 11 items. After their study, they found that the students described a “real meal” as one that is healthy and nutritious, and takes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans into consideration. However, a “meal” is anything that you eat, specifically for survival. Snacks were considered small food portions between meals, used to hold off hunger.
Now that nutritionists see how college students perceive real meals, meals, and snacks; they are able to promote healthy eating in a better way. The students’ perception of “real meal” was particularly beneficial, because now nutrition educators can focus the healthy eating around this particular dish. The researchers suggested using text messaging and email to communicate effectively. They also hope to complete another study of the same category, but this time beyond college students. Researchers hope to gain perspective on the perception of these words in different socioeconomic statuses and life stages.