• Journal of Food & Nutritional Sciences
Review Article

Nutrient Intake and Diet Quality According to Meal Plan Use in College Students

Journal of Food & Nutritional Sciences [2022; 4(2): 108-121]
Received: 16 June 2023, Accepted: 18 December 2022, Published: 23 December 2022

College years are an important time in life for developing lifelong habits, including a healthy diet. Objective: One goal of this study was to analyze nutrient intake and diet quality of college students by comparing consumption of nutrients and MyPlate servings between students who use and do not use a meal plan (MP). A second aim was to assess how the diet changed over a 12-month period in combination with changes in MP use. Methods: A food frequency questionnaire measured nutrient intake and MyPlate servings of students (n=147) at baseline and 12 months. Students were placed into 3 groups: those who stopped MP use [MP-NMP (no meal plan), n=43], those who continued with a MP (MP-MP, n=71), and those never using a MP (NMP-NMP, n=33). Results: Except for protein and iron, few students met the DRIs for important nutrients. Percent of kilocalories from carbohydrate (P=0.01), added sugar (P=0.02), vitamin D (P=0.03), calcium (P=.01), potassium (P=0.02), and dairy consumption (P=.005) decreased over time for all students. The MP-MP group decreased intake of protein (P=0.02), fiber (P=0.01), calcium (P=0.004), iron (P=0.02), potassium (P=0.009), sodium (P=.05), fruit (P=0.001), and dairy (P=0.001). MP-NMP students had a 4% decrease in percent of kcals from carbohydrate (P=0.05). The NMP-NMP group showed a significant decrease in vitamin D (P=0.04). Conclusions: College students consumed a poor-quality diet, lacking essential nutrients, while MP and NMP users displayed similar dietary shortfalls. Further research is needed to explore the decline in nutrient intake and diet quality of long-term MP users.

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