Changing dietary habits of alberta nutrition students enrolled in a travel study program in Italy

Cynthia Strawson, Rhonda C. Bell, Anna Farmer, Shauna M. Downs, Dana L. Olstad, Noreen D. Willows

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study describes dietary changes among university students who completed a travel study program. Methods: Seventeen undergraduate nutrition students travelled from Edmonton to Italy for 6 weeks to take 2 courses on the Mediterranean diet. In both locations students completed a 24-h dietary recall and a Food Frequency Questionnaire to assess their Mediterranean Diet Quality Index Score (MDQIS). A MDQIS of 48 indicates perfect adherence to eating patterns of the Traditional Healthy Mediterranean Diet Pyramid (THMDP). Results: While in Italy students altered their diets in positive ways (increased consumption of fish and seafood (P = 0.002), wine (P < 0.0001), and olive oil (P = 0.001)) and negative ways (increased consumption of sweets (P = 0.027), poultry (P = 0.001), and meat (P = 0.049)) relative to the THMDP. Students had a significant increase in the percentage of energy from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and alcohol. The MDQIS was low in Edmonton (21.9 ± 3.7) and Italy (22.9 ± 3.9). Conclusions: The overall dietary pattern of students did not adhere to the THMDP. Education about the THMDP and living in Italy for 6 weeks was insufficient to change students' dietary patterns to one characterized as traditional Mediterranean. The findings highlight the challenges of implementing dietary changes even with nutrition education and increased food access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-96
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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