Dining at Universities in North China: Looking at the Impact of Foodservice Operations on Student Nutrition

Open Access
Author:
Liu, Jingchen
Area of Honors:
Nutritional Sciences
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Rebecca L Corwin, Thesis Supervisor
  • Rebecca L Corwin, Honors Advisor
  • Jill Patterson, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Nutrition
  • Food Service
  • Chinese Universities
Abstract:
The nutrition situation in China is complex. An increasing obesity and over-nourishment trend is reported among older adults, while young college students demonstrated undernourishment. This gigantic population group spends their academic years living on campus and they eat almost exclusively from the university food service (UFS). Therefore, this study aims to find out if the current way of operating and managing UFS in North China affects college students’ nutritional health. This three-part study collected and evaluated both qualitative and quantitative data. The analysis was based on: 1) an online satisfaction survey, 2) eighteen extensive interviews with four UFS managers, two UFS staff members, eleven student participants, and one faculty member recruited from six top-ranked North Chinese universities, and 3) observation and nutrition analysis of menus. All data were evaluated and integrated to arrive at the final conclusion. Overall, a possible negative impact of UFS on students’ nutritional health was found among the participating universities. Energy, protein, vitamin D, and calcium adequacy, as well as sodium excess are major areas of concern. The situation may be further complicated by the privatization movement in North China, as well as by insufficient nutrition education among both the population group and the UFS staff. The findings and recommendations suggest meal quality improvements in Chinese UFS. The findings could also be used to initiate nutrition promotion programs and to inspire future in-depth studies on the nutritional status of this population.