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Mar 13, 2017 09:36 AM EDT

College Students’ Understanding of Dietary Terms May Help Nutrition Education, According Study

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According to a team of researchers, how college students perceive dietary terms might have an impact on nutrition education. They are considered an important group in the study of nutrition educators because college level is the stage where an individual transitions to adulthood and begins making more independent decisions and choices which can be health impacting.

The researchers from the University of Hawaii and Brigham Young University looked into how college students understand and use the terms real meal, meal and snack, Science Daily reported. They also determined how their perception of these terms can impact nutrition education.

The study involved students from the two western US universities. There was a total of 20 participants who were asked to answer a survey to check the differences among the terms meal, real meal and snacks. According to NewsWise, the students perceived real meal as the nutritious meal that meet the standards of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, while meals can just be any type of food, whether it is healthy or unhealthy, and snacks were perceived as the small portions of food typically eaten between meals to stave off hunger.

Jinan Banna, PhD, RDN, lead author of the study, said that how these students perceive these terms might help educators find a way to come up with a new approach in promoting healthy eating. And when they use the term real meal, educators may be able to promote eating habits that correspond to the dietary guidelines.

While it will require more research to understand the differences in the perception of these terms will impact people's choice about food, the results of the survey can be helpful in understanding perception among different age groups, from different status, beyond college students.

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