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Nutrition Research Proposal – Study Design Proposal

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Updated: May 4th, 2022

Literature review

Various study literatures written on the nutritional statuses of students have revealed that college and university students embrace standards of living that either negatively or positively impact on their health and nutrition (Monneuse et al., 1997). A nutritional study conducted by Jaworowska and Bazylak (2007) showed that the diets of most university and college students are subjected to various factors. In fact, factors such as students’ knowledge on health and nutrition as well as their residential backgrounds might alter nutritional habits. Hence, these may impact on their academic achievements and performances. Baric et al. (2003) refuted this assertion in their longitudinal research study. Their research findings indicated that students’ knowledge as regards to health and nutrition hardly determines the desired eating patterns for the university students (Kolodinsky et al., 2007).

However, Kremmyda et al. (2008) also insists that given that both college and university students practice personal eating habits, nutritional experts perceive this as a major health problem. Chen et al. (2007) supported this claim by asserting that bad nutritional habits are detrimental and may affect students’ performance and achievements. Besides Krinke (2002) affirmed that bad nutrition or poor food consumption patterns bear allied health and performance risks. According to Brevard and Ricketts (1996) assertions, changes in the students’ lifestyles significantly affect their nutrition and health patterns. These in turn impact on their academic performances and achievements. Farghaly et al. (2007) on the other hand conducted a cross sectional survey using college students who are in the boarding. The results revealed that the rate of consuming whole fatty foods in addition to heavy carbohydrates is minimal amongst the boarding college students (El-Ansari et al., 2007).

Research questions

Basically, as a cross sectional study, the researcher will assess the effect of good nutrition on students performance or achievement in school. The study will be conducted in one university in the European Union and the study sample will consist of 100 university students. Students’ nutritional behaviours as well as factors which influence food consumption will be evaluated well devised research questionnaire.

The general research question will be “What is the effect of good nutrition on students’ performance or achievement in school? However, at the end of this study, answers to the following research sub-questions will have been obtained:

  • What clearly determines the nutritional patterns of university students?
  • Do good nutritional patterns affect students’ achievements and performances at school?
  • Other than good nutrition, could students’ performances at the university be attributed to other factors other than just eating habits?

Research hypotheses

The researcher intends to test the subsequent research hypotheses:

  • Ho: Good nutrition affects students’ performance or achievement in school
  • H1: Good nutrition does not affect students’ performance or achievement in school

The null hypothesis will be accepted proviso it is correct and this will mean rejecting the alternative hypothesis. Nevertheless, the alternative hypothesis will be accepted if the null hypothesis is wrong.

Research Methods and techniques

Study Design

Quantitative study will be carried out using the cross-sectional study design in order to determine the significance or importance of proper nutrition in the overall academic performance of students in school (Miere et al., 2007). The health belief (nutritional) model will be applied to guide this survey and more importantly to understand the way food intake influences the participants’ performances.

The study design (cross-sectional study) is selected because of its feasibility, efficiency as well as its being economical (Kolodinsky et al., 2007). Another advantage of this kind of study design is that the data gathered can easily be analyzed more quickly and it also provides the needed characteristics of the research population (Panagiotakos et al., 2007). Moreover, the conclusion drawn will be more reliable and valid since data from the study design is more accurate (Irazusta et al., 2006). Nevertheless, this technique only studies the sample from the entire population. Therefore the conclusion drawn will be more generalized. In other words, the conclusion drawn from the sampled data will represent that of the whole population (Young & Fors, 2001).

Participants and sampling

In this survey, all universities students are deemed eligible to participate in the research. However, the targeted sample population for the survey will be drawn from students at Flinders University. The total number of students or the sample size to be surveyed comprises of 100 students represented by each gender (Bas et al., 2005). These students will be chosen using convenience sampling method given that the researcher will be unable to survey every single study population member. This sampling method is chosen given its advantage of being relatively cheap compared to other sampling methods. The research questionnaire will be administered to the conveniently sampled population in order to help address the formulated research questions. As indicated, the proposed sample will comprise of 50 female participants between the age of 18 and 35 years, and 50 gentlemen aged between 18 and 40 years.

Basically, given that the size of the study population is large, it might expensive and time consuming to examine each population element. Thus, convenience sampling method is selected because it helps in alleviating the prevailing time and cost constraints. Furthermore, convenience samples offer accurate correlations and rich qualitative data (Schweyer & Le-Corre, 1994). Despite the advantages of convenience sampling method, the associated disadvantages are that the method hardly produces representative results and the generated samples are very hard to replicate (Osler & Heitmann, 1996).

Data collection

Data for this study will largely be collected from primary sources (Roddam et al., 2005). The most important and relevant statistics will be gathered via self-administered study questionnaires. The assumption is that a comprehensive explorative instrument has been developed and satisfactorily tested prior to embarking on this actual research study (Von-Bothmer & Fridlund, 2005). Therefore, one hundred self-administered questionnaires that examine the effect of nutrition on the students’ performance will be used.

The questionnaire will take the students roughly between 16 and 20 minutes to complete. The questionnaires have been developed based on the contained elements and focus on the perceived benefits, barriers, susceptibility as well as the effectiveness of nutrition on students’ health and performances. The questionnaire also examines other factors that influence the nutritional habits of university students.

Ethical Consideration

Before conducting this research study, the requirements for the university social and behavioral research ethics committee were completed. In addition, all those students who will participate in this study will be provided with information concerning their freedom of participation based on the stated standards. The institution will also provide a letter of introduction specifying and explaining the study and the required standard methods.

In the letter, there will be secrecy assurance for the information provided according to the strict confidential requirements stipulated by the Quantitative Research Methods for Social Research coordinating team from the university. Moreover, information sheet describing the study and the way the participants will be required to behave will be provided. The participants will be made aware that they can withdraw their involvement at any time and without any consequence. However, strict measures will be put in place during and after the study so as to protect the respondents from any side effects (Bas et al., 2005). Finally, the information acquired from the study participants will be securely stored and protected whereas study finding reports will not divulge the participants’ identification (Kafatos et al., 2000).

References

Baric, CI, Satalic, Z, & Lukesic, Z 2003, “Nutritive value of meals, dietary habits and nutritive status in Croatian university students according to gender”, International Journal of Food Science Nutrition, vol. 54 no. 6, pp.473-484.

Bas, M, Altan, T, Dincer, D, Aran, E, Kaya, HG & Yuksek, O 2005, “Determination of dietary habits as a risk factor of cardiovascular heart disease in Turkish adolescents”, Eur J Nutr, vol.44 no.3, pp.174-182.

Brevard, PB & Ricketts, CD 1996, “Residence of college students affects dietary intake, physical activity, and serum lipid levels”, J Am Diet Assoc, vol.96 no.4, pp.35-38.

Chen, MY, James, K & Wang, EK 2007, “Comparison of health-promoting behavior between Taiwanese and American adolescents: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey”, Int J Nurs Stud, vol.44 no.5, pp.59-69.

El-Ansari, W, Maxwell, AE, Mikolajczyk, RT, Stock, C, Naydenova, V & Kramer, A 2007, “Promoting public health: benefits and challenges of a European wide research consortium on student health”, Cent Eur J Public Health, vol.15 no.6, p.58-65.

Farghaly, NF, Ghazali, BM, Al-Wabel, HM, Sadek, AA & Abbag, FI 2007, ”Life style and nutrition and their impact on health of Saudi school students in Abha, Southwestern region of Saudi Arabia”, Saudi Medical Journal, vol. 28 no. 2, pp.415-421.

Irazusta, A, Gil, S, Ruiz, F, Gondra, J, Jauregi, A, Irazusta, J & Gil, J 2006, “Exercise, physical fitness, and dietary habits of first-year female nursing students”, Biol Res Nurs, vol.7 no.2, pp.175-186.

Jaworowska, A, & Bazylak, G 2007, “Residential factors affecting nutrient intake and nutritional status of female pharmacy students in Bydgoszcz”, Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig, vol.58 no.1, pp.245-251.

Kafatos, A, Verhagen, H, Moschandreas, J, Apostolaki, I & Van-Westerop, JJ 2000, “Mediterranean diet of Crete: foods and nutrient content”, J Am Diet Assoc, vol.100 no.8, pp.1487-1493.

Kolodinsky, J, Harvey-Berino, JR, Berlin, L, Johnson, RK & Reynolds TW 2007, “Knowledge of current dietary guidelines and food choice by college students: better eaters have higher knowledge of dietary guidance”, Journal of American Diet Association, vol.107 no.12, pp.1409-1413.

Kremmyda, LS, Papadaki, A, Hondros, G, Kapsokefalou, M & Scott, JA 2008, “Differentiating between the effect of rapid dietary acculturation and the effect of living away from home for the first time, on the diets of Greek students studying in Glasgow”, Appetite,vol.50 no.2, pp.455-463

Krinke, U 2002, Adult nutrition: in nutrition through the life cycle, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA.

Miere, D, Filip, L, Indrei, LL, Soriano, JM, Molto, JC & Manes, J 2007, “Nutritional assessment of the students from two European university centers”, Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi, vol.111 no.6, pp.270-275.

Monneuse, MO, Bellisle, F, & Koppert, G 1997, “Eating habits, food and health related attitudes and beliefs reported by French students”, Eur J Clin Nutr, vol.51 no.2, pp.46-53.

Osler, M & Heitmann, BL 1996, “The validity of a short food frequency questionnaire and its ability to measure changes in food intake: a longitudinal study”, Int J Epidemiol, vol.25 no.4, pp.1023-1029.

Panagiotakos, D, Sitara, M, Pitsavos, C & Stefanadis, C 2007, “Estimating the 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease and its economic consequences, by the level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet: the ATTICA study”, J Med Food, vol.10 no.4, pp.239-243.

Roddam, AW, Spencer, E, Banks, E, Beral, V, Reeves, G, Appleby, P, Barnes, I, Whiteman, DC & Key, TJ 2005, “Reproducibility of a short semi-quantitative food group questionnaire and its performance in estimating nutrient intake compared with a 7-day diet diary in the Million Women Study”, Public Health Nutr, vol.8 no.1, pp.201-213.

Schweyer, FX & Le Corre, N 1994, “L’alimentation au quotidien chez les e’tudiants”, Pre’venir, vol.26 no.6, pp.87-92.

Von Bothmer, MI & Fridlund, B 2005, “Gender differences in health habits and in motivation for a healthy lifestyle among Swedish university students”, Nurs Health Sci, vol.7 no.1, pp.107-118.

Young, EM & Fors, SW 2001, “Factors related to the eating habits of students in grades 9–12”, J Sch Health, vol.71 no.2, pp.483-488.

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