College Students and Fast Food: How Bad is The Problem?

Do you know what your college students are eating? According to a recent study, it’s probably fast food. Find out why college student eating habits could spell trouble later.

When you send your older children off to college, you hope they’ll make good grades and have healthy eating habits. Unfortunately, this may not be the case – at least as far as the eating habits go. According to a new study carried out at the University of Leicester, college student college student food choices may leave much to be desired from a health perspective – and it could set them up for future health problems later.

What the Study Showed

After doing an extensive survey of college student eating habits, researchers found that what’s for dinner on most college campuses is fast food. This is particularly true among male college students who usually chose a quick meal at a fast food restaurant over preparing something in their apartment or dorm room. Although female college students were also found to be frequent fast food consumers, their fast food visits were less frequent than the guys because of concerns about weight.

What’s the Attraction?

Why are college students so partial to fast food? The researchers believe fast food appeals to teens for a variety of reasons. Lack of time and the unwillingness to prepare their own food along with a limited budget are the main reasons college age kids head to McDonald’s for their nightly meal. The other is peer pressure. When their friends are headed out to a fast food joint, they feel compelled to follow suit and often make the wrong food choices once they get there. It’s not surprising that most college students gain weight once they enter the college scene. Their favorite fast foods? Pizza, past, and French fries top the list of college student favorites.

Why Is It a Problem?

Eating fast foods may have little impact on a teen or young adult’s health in the short term; but more studies are showing that a poor diet during the teen and childhood years can set a teen up for health problems later – including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Fast food may taste good now, but could be more costly later on.

What’s the Solution?

Help teens adopt healthy eating habits before leaving home so it’s less likely they’ll eat their meals at Hardee’s or Pizza Hut. Kids and teens who grow up eating healthy acquire a taste for healthy food and will be less likely to find the college French fry diet to be satisfying. Signing up for the university eating plan is another option. While college cafeteria food may still be heavy on starches and fats, most colleges offer a salad bar and is likely to have healthier offerings than what you find at a fast food place. Parents can help by sending kids at college healthy gift baskets with fruit, nuts, and healthy snack bars. Most off all – parents needs to educate their teens about healthy eating and set a good example themselves so when a teen leaves home those good habits go with them.

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