Date of Award

12-2010

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition

Advisor

Adrienne A. White

Second Committee Member

Rodney A. Bushway

Third Committee Member

Dorothy Klimis-Zacas

Abstract

Obesity impacts one in six young adults, ages 20-29, and is a major risk factor for chronic disease. A comprehensive environmental audit of the University of Maine campus was conducted to identify supports for healthful lifestyles and areas for improvement. Ten assessments were conducted and guided by a committee composed of researchers, graduate and undergraduate students that identified walking segments, academic buildings, and eating facilities to be assessed due to high usage. Inter-rater reliability between the two assessors was 97% agreement. Based on a review of written policies supporting healthful living related to physical activity, food, smoking, and alcohol and their ease of access, only 2 out 10 desired health policies existed. The campus community received a score of 27 out of 30 points for community and campus safety, public transportation, and support for year-round activities. The CDC Walkability Audit tool for worksites was modified for a college campus and used to assess walkways (n= 32 segments). Based on categorizing walking segment scores as good, fair, or poor, 50% of nighttime and 25% of daytime segments were "poor", due to lack of bike lanes, buffers, and attractiveness. Recreation services scored well and could be improved by increasing hours of operation on weekends, certified staff, and health and nutrition classes. The total mean score for the five buildings assessed was 5.3±1.3 out of a possible 10 points. Increasing the number of health promotion signs, bike rack shelters, and cleanliness and lighting of stairways would improve the scores and provide a more health-promoting environment. Of the vending options in buildings, 89%of snack vending and 71 % of offerings in the traditional soda machines were unhealthful options. Based on a possible score range of -29 to 100 points, the mean snack bar score (n=2) was 21.5±2.47 and the dining hall mean score (n=3) was 40.00+3.77. Adding labels on healthful options and nutrition information at point of purchase would increase scores. The mean score for restaurants was 16.56 ±12.43 (possible score range= -24-66). Scores could be improved by adding labeling at point of purchase for nutrition content or labeling of healthful meal items contributed to the low score. Fast food restaurants received higher scores for meeting the criteria of having nutrition labeling at point of purchase and identifying healthful entrees. Mean score was 40.0 ±12.3 (possible score range= 0-78) for the supermarket, grocery store, and convenience store. The supermarket and grocery store compared favorably when assessing availability and quality of healthful items. The supermarket had lower prices than the other stores. The convenience store was not comparable to the supermarket or the grocery store for price, quality, and availability of healthful food items. Based on a scaled scoring of each of the 10 assessment scores to a 10-point range, supports for physical activity appeared to be stronger than the supports for healthful eating. The mean score for the built environment was 7.54 points and for the eating environment was 3.93 points, indicating weaker support within the eating environment for healthful lifestyles. The low health policy score was an indication that written policies are needed to support healthful lifestyles. These findings may be useful to administrators when setting policies and making decisions to improve the built and eating environments on the University of Maine.

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