Do students really eat that badly?
Students have a reputation for eating nothing but pasta and baked beans on toast (which, in fact, is pretty good for us) – but there’s much more to students’ diets.
One survey found that one in 10 students in the UK are vegetarians, which is twice as many as the general population. Diets with low or no meat have been associated with health benefits, although the overall healthfulness of a vegetarian diet depends on what foods are eaten instead of meat. The same survey also found that a quarter of students eat convenience foods most, or every, day.
Another study concluded that only one in five students had “favorable eating behaviors”, which included moderate snacking, consuming little fast food and eating a lot of fruit and vegetables.
Researchers have also found that students are more likely to gain more weight than people of their age who don’t go to university.
Despite a brief deviation from the norm during Covid when students didn’t move out of their family homes, “the research shows that generally students don’t eat very healthily”, says Martin Caraher, professor emeritus of food and health policy at City, University of London.
On a more positive note, students are drinking less alcohol than they did 10 years ago, says John Holmes, professor of alcohol policy at the University of Sheffield in the UK. This is particularly good news because evidence suggests that we establish our drinking habits during young adulthood and maintain them, and that the risks for certain