a1 Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, 426 Ostrom Avenue, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA
a2 Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
a3 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA
a4 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA
a5 Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, USA
a6 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
a7 Nutrition, Food Science and Hospitality Department, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, USA
a8 Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
a9 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA
Objective The present study evaluated the restaurant and dining venues on and near post-secondary campuses varying in institution size.
Design The Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Restaurants (NEMS-R) was modified to evaluate restaurants as fast food, sit down and fast casual; and campus dining venues as dining halls, student unions and snack bar/cafés. ANOVA with post hoc Tukey's B and T tests were used to distinguish differences between dining venues and associated institutions by size.
Setting The study was conducted at fifteen US post-secondary institutions, 2009–2011.
Subjects Data presented are from a sample of 175 restaurants and sixty-eight on-campus dining venues.
Results There were minimal differences in dining halls by institution size, although medium-sized institutions as compared with small-sized institutions offered significantly more healthful side dish/salad bar items. Dining halls scored significantly higher than student unions or snack bar/cafés on healthful entrées, side dish/salad bar and beverages offerings, but they also had the most barriers to healthful dietary habits (i.e. all-you-can-eat). No differences were found by restaurant type for NEMS-R scores for total restaurant dining environment or healthful entrées and barriers. Snack bars had more healthful side dishes (P = 0·002) and fast-food restaurants had the highest level of facilitators (i.e. nutrition information; P = 0·002).
Conclusions Based on this evaluation in fifteen institutions, the full campus dining environment provides limited support for healthy eating and obesity prevention. The quality of campus dining environments can be improved via healthful offerings, providing nutrition information and other supports to facilitate healthy eating and prevent unwanted weight gain.
(Received April 12 2012)
(Accepted August 01 2012)
(Online publication October 18 2012)
† Current affiliation: Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.
‡ Current affiliation: Department of Family, Youth & Community Sciences, University of Florida, Gainsville, FL, USA.