Rates of overweight and obesity are increasing more dramatically among adolescent minorities, possibly leading to chronic disease. College freshmen report unfavorable dietary behaviors that could lead to overweight found to track into adulthood. The transition period to college may be a crucial stage for dietary behavior change among these emerging adults.
Research on the specific eating behaviors and nutrition programs for Black and Hispanic freshmen is scarce. Thus, this study evaluated the effectiveness of the Student Nutrition Action, Attitude, Knowledge, and Skills (SNAAKS) intervention aimed at their nutrition needs. The study's objectives were to: (1) decrease daily consumption of fast food and sweetened soft drinks; (2) increase the number of fruits and vegetables eaten per day; and (3) increase breakfast eating to include calcium-rich foods and whole-grain cereal.
This randomized control trial, in which the treatment group received the Social Cognitive Theory-based SNAAKS nutrition curriculum and the control a non-nutrition curriculum, lasted 3 months and was evaluated using a pre and post intervention Web-based questionnaire.
A few statistically significant results were found in the consumption of healthful snacks (F = 5.87, p = .019), some fruits (F = 4.96, p = .029), vegetables (F = 6.40, p = .014), and dairy foods (F = 5.64, p = .020). There were no significant changes in sweetened beverage consumption. There were statistically significant differences in consumption of fast foods (F = 6.65, p = .02), where the control group decreased their intake significantly more than the intervention group.
The intervention had an effect on two of the six psychosocial mediators: self-efficacy for eating fruit (F = 5.65, p = .020) and barriers to healthy weight (F = 8.27, p = .005). There were no statistically significant changes in weight or BMI.
To achieve a more profound effect, future SNAAKS programs may include more sessions, peer nutrition educators, and a strong social marketing component aimed at addressing social-ecological factors influencing the eating behaviors of these college freshmen.