Gender differences in food habits, beliefs, and fast food consumption among a predominantly Hispanic college students population

Alma Xochitl Ortega Gomez, University of Texas at El Paso


Fast food consumption in the United States (U.S.) has been increasing steadily during the last decades. This trend has been linked to the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity among the population (Barnard, 2010; Currie, Della Vigna, Moretti & Pathania, 2009). Several sociodemographic characteristics that have been associated with the likelihood of frequent fast food consumption include income, ethnicity, gender and age (Block, Scribner, DeSalvo, 2004; Bowman & Vinyard, 2004; Drewnoski & Darmon, 2005; Driskell et al., 2006; Morse & Diskell, 2009; Paeratakul et al., 2003). Most studies related to fast food consumption have been conducted in adult population, only a few have involved younger groups, such as college students. None of those studies have considered this important issue in Hispanics of college age. The objective of this study was to assess food habits, beliefs and dietary patterns of fast food consumption among a predominantly Hispanic college student population living on the U.S-Mexico border. A 21-item survey questionnaire was administered to 191 college students. One hundred and fifty eight students met the inclusion criteria for age (<25 >years). Statistical analyses were conducted to determine gender differences in food habits, beliefs, and frequency of fast food consumption. Participants were predominantly Hispanic (84.81%), single (86.08%) and living with parents/family (79.75%). The mean weekly frequency of fast food consumption was 2.661 with no significant difference found between males and females. Compared to females, males considered price a more important factor when buying fast food (P=0.04). Females bought smaller sized items more frequently than males (P=<0.001) while males bought larger sized items more frequently than females (P=0.02). Family was the most common nutrition knowledge source (75.9 %) with a significantly higher percentage (P=0.001) of females than males considering family as a source to obtain nutrition knowledge (87.6 % vs. 60.9%). Findings from this study need to be taken into consideration when developing programs, strategies, interventions or policies intended to improve nutrition knowledge among students and as well to provide healthier food choices in the college environment. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Public Health

Recommended Citation

Ortega Gomez, Alma Xochitl, "Gender differences in food habits, beliefs, and fast food consumption among a predominantly Hispanic college students population" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1503741.