A Qualitative Investigation of College Student Perceptions of Their Nutrition Environment: Recommendations for Improvement

Academic Article


  • Background: College is the first environment in which students are responsible for making all decisions relating to their eating and exercise behaviors. Of all contributing factors to overweight and obesity, one main influence seems to be the environment. Purpose: This study explored college students’ perceptions of their nutrition environment on campus. Methods: A convenience sample of 33 undergraduate college students (15 males, 18 females) participated in focus groups and key informant interviews on topics related to the college nutrition environment. Results: Major themes included accessibility, money, food, education, and student opinions. Students indicated that unhealthy, processed foods are more available than healthy foods on campus. They also brought up many barriers for eating healthy on campus. Discussion: The accessibility of healthy foods was a major barrier brought up by participants. This barrier included issues with ongoing construction limiting access to food locations, lack of locations for healthy foods, lack of a market-type store, time, and a plethora of vending machines. Elimination of these barriers would help to improve the campus’ overall nutrition environment. Translation to Health Education Practice: Health Educators should work with college personnel to develop policies and practices that promote healthy eating and prevent college weight gain.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 15787816
  • Author List

  • Skelton KR; Evans RR
  • Start Page

  • 50
  • End Page

  • 58
  • Volume

  • 51
  • Issue

  • 1