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Social Sci LibreTexts

10.1: Nutrition and Weight Control

  • Page ID
  • Learning Objectives

    1. Explain why good nutrition is important.
    2. List health problems related to being overweight and obesity.
    3. Explain the general principles of good nutrition.
    4. Make good choices about foods to emphasize in meals and snacks.

    Most Americans have a real problem with food. Overeating causes health problems, but what and how you eat can also affect how well you do as a student.

    Why Are So Many Americans Overweight?

    Americans are eating too much—much more so than in the past. One-third of all Americans twenty years or older are obese. Another third of all adults are overweight. That means that two-thirds of us are not eating well or getting enough exercise for how we eat. There are many intertwined causes of this problem in American culture.

    Why are being overweight and obesity a problem? Obesity is associated with many medical conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Although some health problems may not appear until later in life, diabetes is increasing rapidly in children and teenagers. Worse, the habits young adults may already have or may form during their college years generally continue into later years.

    But it’s not just about body weight. Good nutrition is still important even if you don’t have a health problem. What you eat affects how you feel and how well you function mentally and physically. Food affects how well you study and how you do on tests. Doughnuts for breakfast can lower your grades!

    Why Do Students Find It So Tough to Eat Healthily?

    If Americans have trouble eating well in an environment that encourages overeating, college students often have it even worse. It seems like food is everywhere, and students are always snacking between classes. Fast food restaurants abound. There may not be time to get back to your dorm or apartment for lunch, and it’s just so easy to grab a quick pastry at the coffee spot as you pass by between classes.

    It’s the eating by habit, or mindlessly, that usually gets us in trouble. If we’re mindful instead, however, it’s easy to develop better habits. Take the Nutrition Self-Assessment to evaluate your present eating habits.

    Nutrition Self-Assessment

    Check the appropriate boxes.

    Usually Sometimes Seldom
    1. I take the time to eat breakfast before starting my day.
    2. I eat lunch rather than snack throughout the day.
    3. When I’m hungry between meals, I eat fruit rather than chips or cookies.
    4. I consciously try to include fruit and vegetables with lunch and dinner.
    5. There is food left on my plate at the end of a meal.
    6. I try to avoid overeating snacks at night and while studying.
    7. Over the last year, my eating habits have kept me at an appropriate weight.
    8. Overall, my eating habits are healthy.