This study assessed food choice priorities (FCP) and associations with consumption of fruits and vegetables (FV), fiber, added sugars from non-beverage sources, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) among college students. Freshmen from eight U.S. universities (N = 1149) completed the Food Choice Priorities Survey, designed for college students to provide a way to determine the factors of greatest importance regarding food choices, and the NCI Dietary Screener Questionnaire. Changes in FCP and dietary intake from fall 2015 to spring 2016 were assessed. Multiple regression models examined associations between FCP and log-transformed dietary intake, controlling for sex, age, race, and BMI. Participant characteristics and FCP associations were also assessed. FCP importance changed across the freshmen year and significantly predicted dietary intake. The most important FCP were price, busy daily life and preferences, and healthy aesthetic. Students who endorsed healthy aesthetic factors (health, effect on physical appearance, freshness/quality/in season) as important for food choice, consumed more FV and fiber and less added sugar and SSB. Busy daily life and preferences (taste, convenience, routine, ability to feel full) predicted lower FV, higher added sugar, and higher SSB consumption. Price predicted lower FV, higher SSB, and more added sugar while the advertising environment was positively associated with SSB intake. FCP and demographic factors explained between 2%–17% of the variance in dietary intake across models. The strongest relationship was between healthy aesthetic factors and SSB (B = −0.37, p < 0.01). Self-rated importance of factors influencing food choice are related to dietary intake among students. Interventions that shift identified FCP may positively impact students’ diet quality especially considering that some FCP increase in importance across the first year of college.
Vilaro, M., Colby, S., Riggsbee, K., Zhou, W., Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Olfert, M., Barnett, T., Horacek, T. M., Sowers, M., & Mathews, A. (2018). Food choice priorities change over time and predict dietary intake at the end of the first year of college among students in the U.S. Nutrients. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10091296