Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Health Sciences

Advisor(s)

Jeremy D. Akers

Elizabeth Edwards

Sarah Carson

Abstract

Studies reveal there are many health benefits to following a vegetarian diet such as lower body mass index (BMI) compared to non-vegetarians, and lowered risk for obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between consuming vegetarian meals and the academic success and health status of college students. All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at James Madison University during the Fall 2013 semester were contacted to participate in an online questionnaire. Seven hundred and twenty eight students enrolled during the 2013-2014 school year participated in the online questionnaire. In comparison to non-vegetarians, vegetarians reported that their overall health was better (3.74+0.09 out of 5 vs. 3.54+0.03 out of 5) and they participated in more days of cardiorespiratory physical activity per week (4.48+0.2 days vs. 3.54+0.08 days). The most noted reasons for following a vegetarian diet were to improve overall health (74.3%) and environmental concerns (70.3%). The majority of college vegetarians exclude beef (96%), pork (96%), and poultry (92%) from their diets. Additional research involving an increased heterogeneous sample on variables such as gender, race/ethnicity, and BMI, would provide further insight into the relationship between vegetarian diets and academic success.

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