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Changes in food neophobia and dietary habits of international students

By John Edwards, Heather Hartwell and Lorraine Brown


Background\ud International study is becoming more prevalent, yet aspects such as food neophobia often militate against the consumption of a nutritionally balanced diet of visiting students. The purpose of this paper, therefore, was to evaluate the extent to which international postgraduate students experience food neophobia, how this might vary by nationality and other demographic characteristics, and how acculturation might manifest itself in students’ dietary behaviour.\ud Methods\ud International postgraduate students were invited to complete a validated questionnaire during their first week at university. The questionnaire was subsequently re-administered to the same students approximately four and eight months later. \ud Results\ud In total, 226 usable responses were analysed, 124, 58 and 44, respectively, for the first, second and final data collection. Perhaps surprisingly, the overall food neophobia scores increased from an initial value of 27.95 (SD ± 16.95) to 33.67 (SD ± 33.67) after 3 months although when comparing European and Asian students, only the former were significantly different (p<0.05). Both Asian and European students reported small but not significant changes in their eating habits, although after 3 months significantly (p=< 0.05) less changes were reported. No significant changes were reported in students’ perceived healthiness of their diets either by nationality or over time.\ud Conclusions\ud Understanding the complexities of food neophobia, other aspects of dietary change and at what point these changes might take place in the acculturation process when students arrive in the UK needs to be fully understood if a climate for positive learning is to be established

Topics: edu
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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