Young adults may enjoy spending time eating meals with friends and family, but they often do not make the time to eat in a social setting because school and work demands so much time. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in January, 2009, reported that time constraints imposed by school or work can impact eating habits in a negative way.
Researchers surveyed 1687 young adults between 18 and 25 and assess eating behaviors and dietary balance. They found that 35% of males and 42% of females reported that they did not have time to sit down and eat a meal.
Researchers noted that eating on the run was related to eating more unhealthy fast foods. Young people who ate on the run did not eat as many healthful foods. ‘
Questions asked of the study participants included whether they enjoyed eating in social settings, whether eating regular meals was important and if the felt they had to eat of the run. They also asked questions about diet, including their intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, soft drinks and fast food.
Researchers found that while young adults enjoyed eating in a social setting, they frequently ate on the run. Eating on the run was associated with poorer nutrition and an unbalanced diet.
Nicole I. Larson wrote in the study article, that the findings suggest a need to address the influence of perceived time constraints on eating the meal behaviors on very young adults.
Study authors wrote that it may be beneficial for health promotion strategies targeting young adults to address the management and reduction of individual time barriers to having regular, shared meals.”
Although young adults have access to up-to-date health and nutritional information based upon medical research it seems they do not take the time to eat properly.
Young adults could benefit from training on meal planning to include fresh fruits, vegetable and lean meats in the diet. Fast food diets are usually high in carbohydrates, fat and sodium. Even foods that seem like healthy choices may contain preservatives.
While a fast food meal on occasion may not be harmful, fast food should not be eaten on a regular basis.
Eating in a social setting, with friends and family, is a great time to sit and take in nourishment in a relaxing, positive setting.
The article is “Making Time for Meals: Meal Structure and Associations with Dietary Intake in Young Adults” by Nicole I. Larson, PhD, MPH, RD, Melissa C. Nelson, PhD, RD, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD, Mary Story, PhD, RD, and Peter J. Hannan, MStat. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 109, Issue 1 (January 2009) published by Elsevier.
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