Is the healthy choice the easy choice: availability of sodium, calories, and fibre at a university cafeteria

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University of New Brunswick


The average Canadian adult consumes too much sodium and energy, and too little fibre. Dietary habits of university students are still evolving and will influence future food choices with implications for long-term health. This research determined whether the menu of prepared foods at a university cafeteria allowed students to choose a diet that met recommendations for sodium (1500 mg), energy (1717 kcal-3418 kcal), and fibre (14g/1000 kcal). Over a 35-day dining cycle, the nutritive values of the three nutrients for prepared foods listed on the foodservice company’s website were recorded. A “Nutrition Simulation” software program randomly analyzed 2500 potential meals per day based on students’ consumption patterns. The results were that sodium and energy levels were too high (mean sodium=6490 mg, energy=3356 kcal), and fibre was too low (8.5g/1000 kcal). Thus, in this eating environment, it was either impossible (sodium) or difficult (energy and fibre) for students to meet daily recommended intakes.