As new college students become autonomous eaters, they may independently develop behaviors related to food that fulfill both biological and cultural purposes. I report here on the results of a biocultural, mixed-methods study of 21 students’ first term of college residence. Interview data and anthropometric measurements permit exploration of the interaction between a shift in participants’ cultural surroundings, physical condition, and food-related thoughts and actions. Participants’ goals of fulfilling their student responsibilities and maintaining social relationships predominantly dictated when, where, and what they ate, while their level of satisfaction with these behaviors was associated with whether their actions were consistent with personal definitions of “healthy.” Participants who demonstrated a conscious effort to eat in a healthy manner generally expressed the highest satisfaction with their food-related behaviors, but did not all experience similar changes in their physical conditions. Because participants’ goals influenced their satisfaction with their eating behaviors, they may affect participants’ behaviors in the future. Continued research should investigate how the goals that individuals articulate but do not act on during this period in their life course may influence their health and behaviors later in their lives.
Level of Honors
magna cum laude
Sancilio, Amelia E., "Eating Behaviors and Body Composition Among College Freshmen: The Effect of Dietary and Commensal Culture on Biological Outcomes" (2012). Lawrence University Honors Projects. 19.