Date of Award
Master of Science
Food and Nutrition
Trayless dining is a new form of sustainability that has been said to be socially, environmentally, and economically beneficial. Some individuals further claim it has health benefits and encourages students to consume less food. The main objective of our study was to examine the relationship between a trayless dining system and weight maintenance of freshmen college students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). A survey instrument was developed for this study and consisted of four sections: section 1) eating habits; section 2) external and internal eating cues; section 3) physical activity; section 4) demographics. Data collection included a convenience sample of students who utilized Trueblood and Lentz campus dining hall facilities at SIUC twice during the 2008-2009 academic year. A total of 621 surveys were collected in the fall semester of 2008 from students eating at the SIUC Dining Halls. Freshmen responses were exclusively examined due to the research interest, therefore, 355 freshmen surveys were used. A second survey was distributed in the spring semester of 2009. Of the 355 freshmen who filled out the initial survey, 34 freshmen completed the follow-up survey. Participants were predominantly Caucasian or Black, eighteen years of age, and lived on campus. Linear regression analysis was used to determine the independent effect of trayless dining on weight change. Our study did not find a significant predictor at the p <.05 level between those who reported consuming more or less food in a trayless dining setting and weight change. Therefore, weight change was not significantly affected by trayless dining. An overall mean weight change of 2.79 pounds was observed in this study, showing similar results to other freshmen weight change studies conducted previously (Mihalopoulos et al., 2008; Hoffman et al., 2006; Kasparek, et al., 2008; Levitsky, et al., 2005). Since trayless dining is a new concept, there is little information available and no previous research to link it to weight change. Trayless dining may be one factor of many to consider when addressing college freshmen weight gain. Other factors such as physical activity, stress, health-related behaviors, and snacking habits should also be addressed for a more comprehensive assessment. Continued efforts to guide students into healthy lifestyles should be a focus for health professionals.
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