Carisa Hilton

The Impact of Nutrition Education on Serving Size Comprehension in Female College-Age Students

Emily Heying, Advisor
Jayne Byrne      
Mark Glen

What inspired you to select your thesis topic?
“Academically for my Dietetics major and personally for my health, I often complete food logs and analyze my nutrient intake to assess my dietary habits. In doing so, I have found that the most important, yet difficult, information to estimate is the serving size amount. These experiences, along with noticing gaps in current research, inspired my research project. Past research reveals that consumers often over or under consume certain nutrients; however, no research studies address the best form of nutrition education to address this issue with serving size misinterpretations. As I continue to pursue a career as a Registered Dietitian, I want to be able to notice these common difficulties for consumers and provide the most effective nutrition education for the given population to improve dietary habits and overall health.           

Carisa’s research in here own words:
The first goal of my study was to investigate how female college-aged students use Nutrition Facts labels to estimate serving size.  The second goal of my study was to assess different nutrition education interventions to improve serving size estimates. Participants (females, age 18-24, n=32) completed a serving size assessment and survey regarding nutrition label use at baseline, were randomly assigned to a treatment group (social media, handout, video, or control) for one week, and then returned for a post-assessment data collection.  The results reveal that those female college-aged students are accurate at determining serving size measurements for a variety of foods when given the tools to do so. In comparison to previous studies, this accuracy is influenced by the clarity of the nutrition label, the type of measurement unit that the serving size recommends, and the interest of the individual to use serving sizes.       

What advice would you give to future CSBSJU Thesis Scholars?
I would highly recommend that all students participate in undergraduate research work. With the help and support of my professors and my 2020 Nutrition Research cohort, I am proud of creating, conducting, and analyzing my research study over the last three semesters. While I did not expect the results I received, I learned the importance of the phrase, “all data is good data.” There is always a story to tell in research, and I hope that every CSB/SJU student will take advantage of this opportunity.

Carisa would like to acknowledge:
I want to thank Dr. Emily Heying for being my Thesis Advisor. Her investment in me throughout this process has helped me grow in my confidence as a Student Researcher and future Registered Dietitian. I also want to thank Jayne Byrne and Mark Glen for being my Faculty Readers, and the College of Saint Benedict Undergraduate Research Program for funding this research.