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Editor’s Note: This is part of a series sharing videos made by Human Health students in the Health 1, 2, 3 program. To see an overview of the program and this series please read this post.
By: Celia Hu
Health is a life-long topic. It is the foundation of a high-quality life and academic success. However, for most students, college life is their first time they have to be fully responsible for their health, no longer supervised by anyone else. Therefore, it is imperative that as college students we have both knowledge and skills to drive wise choices in order to take care of ourselves.
During my yearlong social marketing project through the Center for the Study of Human Health’s 4th level program of Health 1, 2, 3, I was interested in exploring college students’ perceptions of fruit and vegetable consumption. According to research, daily consumption of fruit, especially whole fruit, is beneficial for both physical and mental health. Psychologically, whole fruit intake increases positive moods and decreases depressive and anxiety symptoms. Physically, fruit has a long-term protective effect against future chronic diseases, including colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.[2-5] Yet, as college students, we often struggle to meet the daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption.
During the initial research phase, I conducted informal peer interviews to supplement the peer-reviewed literature in order to understand the Emory perspective. Through the interview process, I noticed two trends. First, most college students do not have the habit of consuming fruits every day. One reason is that they are unaware of the crucial health benefits brought on by fruit; the other is the lack of perceived access.
Access for the students I spoke with was explained by a lack of access to fruits to meet their personal taste preference and a lack of time to seek out those items. As students we are juggling busy schedules, therefore finding where and how to access fruits and vegetables is not a top priority. Also notable was a lack of knowledge surrounding the free transportation to grocery stores.
The second predominant trend among college students is stress-eating. The students I spoke with agreed that if they are busy and stressed, they are more likely to choose processed foods rich in sodium and added sugar like, pizza, fried chicken, chips, et cetera. These foods act as a temporary reward during times of stress.
In order to tackle these trends, I embraced the academic priorities of students and introduced an easy formula to promote snacks that increase energy, satiety, and a sharp mind.[6-8] This is an ideal formula that is easy to remember and can be integrated into the students’ daily routine. Considering the problem of fruit intake and stress-eating, I decided to merge them into one simple suggestion–consume fruits as a part of the healthy snack.
This approach also does not require much time, one of the barriers identified in my research. Ideally, this suggestion can be integrated into the students’ daily routine. While fruit is healthy, the satiety, or fullness, achieved by just fruit is not long lasting alone. Therefore, combining fruit with whole grain and protein, such as yogurt and granola with nuts, can achieve a more long-lasting sense of satiety that can fuel students during long hours of studying. More importantly, whole fruits can be easily carried around in a backpack, and yogurt or nuts are accessible in various cafÃ©s or in the emporium on campus.
In the conceptualization of the video, I applied the several strategies to relate the concept to the priorities and context of an Emory student. In the video, I emphasized nutrition concepts and the smart snacking formula with both words and images. For more detailed knowledge, I pointed out some specific health benefits of fruit consumption related to academic success. To let the advice look feasible and quick, I included a scene of putting fruits and nuts into a backpack, with the title of “Pack your academic fuel.” This is a visual demonstration of how students can easily make fruit a part of their daily life effortlessly. To address the issue of accessibility, I provided information about where they can find fruits around campus, including how they can take the free shuttle to Publix and pick their own favorites.
- Ruthig, J.C., Marrone, S., Hladkyj, S., & Robinson-Epp, N. (2011). Changes in College Student Health: Implications for Academic Performance. Journal of College Student Development 52(3), 307-320. doi:10.1353/csd.2011.0038.
- Harvard University (2011). The Healthy Eating Plate [image]. The Nutrition Source: Healthy Eating Plate & Healthy Eating Pyramid. Accessed: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
- Boeing, H, Bechthold, A, Bub, A et al. (2012) Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases. Eur J Nutr 51, 637—663
- Dauchet, L, Amouyel, P, Hercberg, S et al. (2006) Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. J Nutr 136, 2588—2593
- Polidori, MC, Pratico, D, Mangialasche, F et al. (2009) High fruit and vegetable intake is positively correlated with antioxidant status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects. J Alzheimers Dis 17, 921—927.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating to Boost Energy. EatRight. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/eating-to-boost-energy. Published July 2019. Accessed July 22, 2020.
- Piedmont Healthcare.What happens to the body when you skip meals? Piedmont. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/what-happens-to-the-body-when-you-skip-meals. Accessed July 22, 2020.
- Tesfaye N, Seaquist ER. Neuroendocrine responses to hypoglycemia. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010;1212:12-28.9.Njike, V. Y., Smith, T. M., Shuval, O., Shuval, K., Edshteyn, I., Kalantari, V., & Yaroch, A. L. (2016). Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 7(5), 866—878. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.009340