Brief report| Volume 36, ISSUE 6, P523-526, June 2009

Food Environments in University Dorms

20,000 Calories per Dorm Room and Counting


      Few young adults meet national dietary recommendations. Although home food availability likely has important influences on dietary intake, little research has examined this issue among young adults. The objective of this research was to conduct a detailed, observational assessment of food and beverages available in college-student dormitory rooms.


      Dormitory-residing students (n=100) were recruited from a large, public university. Research staff completed a detailed inventory of food and beverages in the dorm rooms, including nutrient contents and purchasing sources. Data were collected and analyzed in 2008.


      The mean number of food and beverage items per participant was 47 (range: 0–208), with 4% of participants not having any food or beverages. More than 70% of students had each of the following types of items: salty snacks, cereal or granola bars, main dishes, desserts or candy, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Fewer students had low-calorie beverages, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, tea/coffee, and 100% fruit/vegetable juice. The average number of calories per dorm room was 22,888. Items purchased by parents had a higher calorie and fat content than items purchased by students.


      Findings indicate that students maintain a wide array of food and beverages in their dormitory rooms. Parents purchased a substantial amount of food for their children's dormitory rooms, and these food items were less healthful than the food that students purchased. The foods observed in college students' living spaces may have an important impact on eating habits. Overall, young adult–oriented obesity prevention efforts are needed, and improving the various facets of campus food environments may mark an important component of such strategies.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to American Journal of Preventive Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Nelson M.C.
        • Story M.
        • Larson N.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Lytle L.A.
        Emerging adulthood and college-aged youth: an overlooked age for weight-related behavior change.
        Obesity. 2008; 16: 2205-2211
        • Ogden C.L.
        • Carroll M.D.
        • Curtin L.R.
        • McDowell M.A.
        • Tabak C.J.
        • Flegal K.M.
        Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S., 1999–2004.
        JAMA. 2006; 295: 1549-1555
        • Campbell K.J.
        • Crawford D.A.
        • Salmon J.
        • Carver A.
        • Garnett S.P.
        • Baur L.A.
        Associations between the home food environment and obesity-promoting eating behaviors in adolescence.
        Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007; 15: 719-730
        • Raynor H.A.
        • Polley B.A.
        • Wing R.R.
        • Jeffery R.W.
        Is dietary fat intake related to liking or household availability of high- and low-fat foods?.
        Obes Res. 2004; 12: 816-823
        • Cullen K.W.
        • Baranowski T.
        • Owens E.
        • Marsh T.
        • Rittenberry L.
        • de Moor C.
        Availability, accessibility, and preferences for fruit, 100% fruit juice, and vegetables influence children's dietary behavior.
        Health Educ Behav. 2003; 30: 615-626
        • U.S. Department of Agriculture
        National nutrient database for standard reference.
        • Nelson M.C.
        • Lytle L.A.
        Development and evaluation of a brief screener to estimate fast food and beverage consumption among adolescents.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; (In press)
        • American College Health Association
        American College Health Association National College Health Assessment Spring 2006 Reference Group data report (abridged).
        J Am Coll Health. 2007; 55: 195-206
        • Nelson M.C.
        • Kocos R.
        • Lytle L.A.
        • Perry C.L.
        Understanding the perceived determinants of weight gain in late adolescence: a qualitative analysis among college youth.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2009; (In press)
        • Brown L.B.
        • Dresen R.K.
        • Eggett D.L.
        College students can benefit by participating in a prepaid meal plan.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; 105: 445-448