In a survey that studied the eating habits of 582 college students, researchers found that many of the students weren’t even getting one serving of fruits or vegetables a day. The recommended daily intake is five servings.
The study, announced August 17 and published online in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, also found that both males and females surveyed were consuming more than 30 percent of their calories from fat. The American Dietetic Association recommends no more than 30 percent of calories come from fat over the course of a week.
One possible explanation for the lack of fruit and vegetable intake could be that students reported skipping meals frequently, researchers said.
The study also concluded that males fared marginally better than their female classmates in their consumption of fruits and vegetables, as they got about five servings a week compared to female students, who said they ate about four.
And while females had a lower fiber intake, researchers say their eating habits were generally better than their male counterparts, as they ate in dining halls more often than fast-food eateries and read nutrition labels.
The moral of the story? Good eating habits need to be taught early, says lead researcher Brad Cardinal, professor of exercise and sport science.
“We are not teaching youth how to be self-sustaining,” Cardinal said in a statement. “Home economics and nutrition classes have all but disappeared from our schools in the K-12 system. There is a fundamental lack of understanding on how to eat well in a very broad sense.”
To avoid weight gain and unhealthy eating, The Everything Healthy College Cookbook written by a registered dietician offers 300 quick, easy and calorie conscious recipes like Asian chicken salad, mango citrus salad and fresh tomato with angel hair pasta.
Cooking Light magazine also offers students tips on how to avoid packing on the pounds and meeting their nutritional requirements in their online piece, “Avoiding the Freshman 15.”