A Program to Increase Dietary Consumption of Plant-based Foods among University Students

By Catherine Faver and Tina Schiefelbein.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 15, 2014 $US5.00

Plant-based diets reduce the risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases and have been proposed as a method of preventing and treating chronic diseases (Tuso et al. 2013). In a region marked by high obesity rates and a poor food environment, this pilot project implemented a nutrition education program to increase participants’ dietary consumption of whole plant foods. Sixteen students at a south Texas university participated in a nine-week program providing information and social support for dietary change. Challenges reported by participants included difficulty finding plant-based options when dining out, maintaining plant-based eating when sharing meals with friends, and eating differently from family members. Sources of support included family members and the weekly program sessions. All participants increased their consumption of plant foods, and eighty-seven percent reported they would “definitely” continue to implement their dietary changes. Sixty-eight percent reported that someone close to them also began to consume more plant foods. Participants’ level of commitment to individual nutrition goals was positively associated with their reports of being pleased with their dietary changes. Future nutrition education programs in the region should emphasize preparation of fast and easy plant-based meals and snacks to help participants avoid the unhealthy options in the food environment.

Keywords: Plant-based Diets, Dietary Change, Food Environment

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, November 2014, pp.57-63. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 15, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 365.719KB)).

Dr. Catherine Faver

Professor, Department of Social Work, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, USA

Tina Schiefelbein

Social Worker, South Texas Behavioral Health Center, Edinburg, Texas, USA