Date of Award

12-4-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Corporate and Organizational Management

Department

College of Business and Management

First Advisor

Farideh Farazmand

Second Advisor

Jeanette Francis

Third Advisor

John Cipolla

Abstract

Poor nutrition habits, sedentary living, and alcohol consumption are all chosen lifestyle behaviors governed by the health beliefs of individuals. Findings have consistently confirmed that college students have poor dietary habits and continue to make poor nutritional choices. Between 70% and 90% of all deaths in the United States are the results of chronic diseases, and 40% of deaths result from lifestyle behaviors and choices (Aldana, Greenlaw, Salberg, Diehl, Thomas & Ohmine, 2006; Grizzell, 2005).

This research examined the differences in the body mass index of normal and overweight college students in the United States according to their personal characteristics, nutrition knowledge, and dietary self-efficacy. The study posed three research questions pertaining to differences in the body mass index of college students. As such, three research hypotheses were tested to determine whether there are significant differences in the body mass indexes of normal and overweight college students according to their personal characteristics, nutrition knowledge, and dietary self-efficacy. This study employed a non-experimental quantitative exploratory (comparative) research design. A convenience sample of 201 was recruited via Survey Monkey. Out of 201 college students that completed surveys, 126 were usable. The questionnaire consisted of Part 1, personal characteristics; Part 2, nutrition knowledge; Part 3, dietary self-efficacy; and Part 4, body mass index.

Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 18 was used to analyze the findings of this non-experimental quantitative exploratory (comparative) research. Data analysis was conducted using descriptive and comparative analyses. This study's findings indicated that the personal characteristics of college students do not influence their body mass index. These results were different from studies that have indicated personal characteristics, such as gender, race, and age, have had statistically significant effects on the level of engagement in health promoting behaviors and lifestyle (Anding et al., 2001; Huang, Haris, Lee, & Nazir, 2003; Jackson, Tucker, & Herman, 2007). The findings of this study were similar to Parmenter and Wardle's (1999) results were students tended to concentrate on a specific area of nutrition knowledge. There were two main areas that indicated significant differences "Total Dietary Recommendations" and "Total Choosing Everyday Foods". College students within a normal BMI category (BMI between 18.5 to 24.9), were much more likely to, know and understand what current experts say about healthy dietary recommendations, over college students within an overweight BMI category (BMI of 25 to 29.9). The results also indicated that college students within a normal BMI category, were much more likely to choose between different foods to identify a healthier choice, over college students within an overweight BMI range. There were no correlations between dietary self-efficacy and BMI in this study. The findings indicate that more research is needed to gain a clearer understanding and to investigate whether there are correlations between nutrition knowledge, dietary self-efficacy, and dietary behavior. It may be valuable to institute awareness programs at targeted BMI students to improve their nutrition awareness.

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