Maria Anderson ’14

Eating Attitudes and Behaviors in Students Choosing To Major In Nutrition versus Nursing

Congruency between personal beliefs and attitudes and messages conveyed by nutrition counselors is essential to effective communication between counselor and client.  Competent eaters are individuals who are relaxed and flexible with food choices and are confident in their ability to nourish their bodies. The Ellyn Satter Eating Competency Inventory (ecSI), a 16 item validated and reliable questionnaire, is designed to assess competent eating by measuring attitudes towards food and eating behaviors. 

PURPOSE: To assess the differences in eating attitudes and behaviors of nutrition and nursing majors in both first year and senior students who were surveyed.

METHODS: The ecSatter Institute granted permission to use the ecSI and Institutional Review Board approval was received.  All first year and senior nursing and nutrition majors were invited to participate via email. Informed consent was obtained from 59 students (Gender = 8 males, 51 females; Major = 28 nutrition, 31 nursing; Year = 28 First-years, 31 seniors) who completed the ecSatter Inventory. Height and weight measurements were recorded using a scale and stadiometer. Data was analyzed with an Independent T-Test using SPSS. 

RESULTS: The mean±sd of the BMI within the population was 22.37 ± 2.03. The analysis indicated that 69% of all participants scored as "eating competent" a (≥32).  Nutrition majors scored (p=.013) higher on the ecSI (mean ± sd= 37.35 ± 6.9) than nursing majors (mean ± sd=32.23±8.34).  There were no statistical differences between first-years and seniors in each cohort in this survey (p=.69).

CONCLUSION: Nutrition students had higher eating competence than nursing students.  A limited male population size hindered our ability to draw and conclusions about gender.  A lack of significant changes between first-year and senior students may indicate the need to discuss how nutrition curriculum could more strongly influence the promotion of positive attitudes and behaviors towards food and eating.   

Maria Anderson presented her research at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual meeting April 24, 2014.

To view Poster, click on link below: 
Eating Attitudes and Behaviors in Students Choosing To Major In Nutrition versus Nursing

Research advisor: Jayne Byrne, MS, RDN