How College Students Can Eat More Vegetables

Most college students don't eat enough vegetables and fruits. A 2009 survey of UC Davis students found that more than 60 percent of college students in the Sacramento and Davis areas eat two or fewer servings of nutrition-packed fruits and vegetables a day. By increasing access to fresh produce, the farmer's market on the UC Davis campus can make it easier for students, staff and faculty to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet.

On one hand you hear about childhood obesity, and on the other there are college students who haven't eaten enough vegetables since childhood. Then you have a group of college students on a mainly meat and fats, almost no-carb diet to lose weight. And finally, there's a minority of students who are vegans or want to be.

How many times have you witnessed a basket of free apples left for students to take as they leave a school eatery, and the apples are untouched? Kids and college students would eat the apples if they were emulsified, pureed, and added to other foods from smoothies to casseroles.

The way to solve this problem is to sneak vegetables and fruits into other foods that kids will eat by habit, preference, taste, or familiarity. It has been said that childhood obesity might be due to kids not eating enough servings of vegetables and fruit.

Students and the public can now buy produce on the UC Davis campus at the East Quad Farmers Market. It runs every Wednesday during fall and spring quarters.

What you get on campus is a great variety of fresh, local foods. Vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts, flowers, grapes, apples, tomatoes, melons, peaches, and nectarines are available. The goal is for Sacramento and Davis students to help support local farmers by eating more produce. The East Quad Farmers Market (EQFM) at UC Davis is a successful collaboration for busy students, staff and faculty.

Nationally, most college students don't eat enough fruits and vegetables unless they're part of a small minority of vegetarians. College students love eating fat but may not want to get fat.

A study out of Oregon State University examined the eating habits of 582 college students. Researchers found that many of the students weren't even getting one serving of fruits or vegetables a day. The recommended daily intake is five servings.

A typical day for a college student might start out with eggs and cheese melted on bread, or hot cakes and sausages. Then a burger and fries for lunch, with snacks of chips and sodas. Maybe include a yogurt or some type of processed meat sandwich, or maybe a hot dog. Finally, a dinner of pizza or meat and fries. Maybe a meatball sandwich or fish, shrimp or fried onions, and perhaps some rice.

The Oregon State University study also found that both males and females surveyed were consuming more than 30 percent of their calories from fat. The American Dietetic Association recommends no more than 30 percent of calories come from fat over the course of a week.

The study surveyed mostly first-year students and compared both male and female students. It found that both were not getting the proper amount of fruits and vegetables. Male students had about five servings a week, slightly higher than female students who self-reported eating about four servings of fruits and vegetables.

Female students had lower fiber intake, while males tended to consume more fat in their diet. Overall, the females had better eating habits, including skipping fewer meals, eating in the college dining halls more frequently, and reading food labels.

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