An examination of university students' opinions of nutritional labeling and their use of an online nutrition analysis program

Patrick D Ferguson, Purdue University


Introduction. The increasing levels of overweight and obesity from 1990 to 2010 have been described as reaching pandemic proportions and were widely believed to be among the United States' principal public health problems. College students, typically between 18-22 years old, are required for the first time in their lives to make all of their food decisions on their own. This critical period of time is when people begin to solidify lifelong health behaviors. Methods. At a large Midwestern university, 525 students completed a 19-question online survey that evaluated their opinions on health and their use of an online program that provides nutrition information for food provided at the university's dining courts. Results. This study found that 45.1% of respondents were aware of the university’s online nutrition program. Among those that were aware of the program, only 14.4% used the program more than a few times. The majority of subjects reported that they would utilize nutrition information if provided at the university's dining courts, but women were significantly more interested than men. Discussion. This study showed that there was interest in having nutrition information provided at the point of selection in restaurants and university dining halls. There is some question as to how effective menu labeling is at helping people make more healthy food choices, with the ultimate goal of decreasing the levels of overweight and obesity in the United States. Conclusion. More research needs to be completed on the potential of nutrition information provided at the point of selection to improve healthy food choices. Specifically, there needs to be more research on how to develop effective interventions for men to improve their health and food decisions.




Hyner, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health|Health education

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