Bound Volume Number
Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Dr. Tanya M. Horacek
Dr. Jennifer L. Wilkins
Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sport and Human Dynamics
eating environment, vegetable intake
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition
Objective: To determine how employees’ perceptions of the availability and price of fruits and vegetables within the work and surrounding environment correspond to the actual availability and price of fruits and vegetables and influence employees’ fruit and vegetable intakes.
Design: This study is a cross-sectional design comparing a survey of employees’ perceptions and behaviors and an environmental audit assessing the healthfulness of dining facilities on campus.
Setting: Syracuse University and the surrounding eating environment.
Participants: 130 Syracuse University employees.
Methods: Employees were invited to complete the Work Campus Environment & Behavior Perceptions Survey. The survey consisted of 28 Likert scale questions to assess employee’s perceptions of the healthfulness of the work environment and their related behaviors (choosing healthy foods, exercise, etc). The survey assessed fruit and vegetable intake, perceived weight category (under, over) and weight intention (lose, maintain). Employees self-reported weight and height, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. The environmental audits assessed the dining options both on and off campus, including convenience stores, dining halls, sit-down, fast food, and delivery restaurants. The audits were conducted by trained undergraduate research assistants to evaluate the healthfulness of the dining facility based on specific criteria, such as the availability of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less healthful choices. The healthfulness of the foods and the supportiveness of the environment sub-scores were generated for each dining facility. Non-parametric, t-test, and ANOVA statistics were used to compare the results.
Results: The average fruit and vegetable intake among employees was 1.17 ± 1.0 and 2.04 ± 1.3, respectively. BMI was not related to fruit and vegetable intake, but it did affect weight intention. Only 3% of employees believed that the university encourages healthy eating, while 56% believe there is healthy food where they usually eat on campus. However, those with the highest fruit /vegetable intake perceived limited supports for healthy eating on campus. Dining halls had the highest average sub-scores for healthfulness of food (37.56 ± 12.0) and supportiveness of environment (25.33 ± 5.9). Delivery restaurants had the lowest sub-scores for both categories.
Conclusion: While this study uncovered important information regarding how perceptions, behaviors, and the work environment can affect fruit and vegetable intake, further research should incorporate worksite interventions and compare results to other campuses.
Bickhart, Alexa Folk, "Relationship between Syracuse University Employees’ Perceptions, Behaviors, Environment, and Fruit and Vegetable Intake" (2015). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 870.
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