Context: Students enrolled in health professional (HP) programs receive varying amounts of credit hours dedicated to nutritional education, and obesity remains an issue in the United States among healthcare providers.
Objectives: To assess whether HP students differ in nutrition and exercise habits from non health professional (NHP) students at a single university, and whether any gender related differences existed in those habits.
Methods: From September 25, 2018 to October 10, 2019, a 16-question multiple-choice survey was distributed via e-mail or in person to HP and NHP students enrolled at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Questions targeted participant dietary and exercise habits. Each question had five multiple-choice answer options, each of which was assigned a coded value to compare similarities and differences between the HP and NHP groups.
Results: Of 732 responses (569 HP, 163 NHP), results showed no statistically significant difference between enrollment groups (p>0.05) in any response parameter including consumption of sweets, fast food, red meat, caffeine, water, fruit, and vegetables. Comparisons among sexes demonstrated significant differences. Women consumed less red meat, water, and protein, and women participated in less exercise compared to men. Women also consumed more sweets compared to men.
Conclusions: Results suggest that NSU students enrolled in HP and NHP programs have similar nutritional concepts and eating habits. This may indicate a need to strengthen nutritional education in dietary health and wellness for HP students.