Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Education and Human Services


Nutrition and Food Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Douglas Murray

Committee Member

Charles Feldman

Committee Member

Stephanie Silvera


The college years have been acknowledged as a time of emerging adulthood, during which students develop habits and make choices that endure long into their future (Arnett, 2000). To date, limited research exists that examines the college population, particularly in relation to diet. The purpose of this study is to explore the dietary choices college students make as they transition from the home and develop autonomy and to help fill the gap in literature. Four focus groups were organized (n=24) to reveal themes intrinsic to the development of dietary habits during the on-campus experience. The focus groups were recorded with participant consent and IRB approval. The recordings were transcribed and coded for analysis by the researcher under faculty supervision to ensure inter-rater reliability, expert review, and data corroboration of the four emergent themes: 1) food lifestyle at home, 2) food lifestyle at school, 3) continuum of growth, and 4) dietary and health perceptions. A thorough understanding of dietary choices and habits cultivated during the college years has implications for improving food choice availability on college campuses, as well as revealing the need for nutrition education programs that may help prevent the development of poor habits, overweight and obesity, and other diet related diseases through adulthood.

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