Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Daniel P. Nadler

Thesis Committee Member

Eric S. Davidson

Thesis Committee Member

Louis V. Hencken


This study was an analysis of student eating habits in an "all-you-care-to-eat" dining center at a mid-size, four year, Midwest residential institution. The present, quantitative study was replicated based off a study conducted in 2008 at a similar Midwest university by Diana Poovey Duncan. The present study examined college students' (n = 218) eating habits and consumption patterns over a nine-week study period. Participants were solicited to take the pre-intervention survey in person with incentives during the second week of the study while a post-intervention survey was sent electronically during the seventh week only to those whom provided an e-mail address from the pre-intervention survey. From the forth through six weeks, a marketing intervention that included table tents, benefit-based posters using picture and humor, food item indicator cards that identified the ten targeted food items among other items. All marketing items included "The Right Stuff' slogan and logo of a plate and silverware place setting.

The study concluded that eating habits did change while at college and that they have changed due to a lack of time, laziness, increased stress, studying late hours, and having no parent or guardian to prepare meals for them. The effect of the marketing intervention was tested by analyzed participants' perceptions of healthy food items offered within the dining center. The study concluded that participants had positive perceptions that the dining center offered a variety of food items, healthy food items were easily identified and possible for them to select. The social marketing intervention produced no change though in participants' perceptions. Lastly, ten food items were focused on to measure participants' consumption patterns. Results demonstrated an overall correlation between student consumption and the presence of nutritional information at point-of-selection. A reduced amount of consumption was observed for whole wheat bread while not change in consumption was observed for the nine other targeted food items.