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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona Tests the Feasibility of Engaging College Students in a 10-Day Plant-Based Diet

Researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health sought to determine the feasibility of engaging college students in experiential learning through a 10-day whole foods plant-based diet intervention. The program was designed to bring relevance to the course topics that had an emphasis on chronic conditions and understanding how the intervention influenced students’ perceptions and behaviors.

[Photo: Ms. Elizabeth Salerno Valdez]

The study, “Feasibility of engaging college students in a 10-day plant-based diet,” was published in the Health Education Journal. The lead author, Ms. Elizabeth Salerno Valdez, is a doctoral candidate in maternal and child health.

The study was implemented in the context of an undergraduate/graduate public health course using a quasi-experimental design. Biomarkers, dietary perceptions and behaviors were collected at baseline and 11-day post-intervention.

The investigators assessed the feasibility of the intervention using an acceptability focus, including participant retention in the intervention, and participant self-reported experience with the plant-based diet. They also utilized an implementation research focus, concerning the extent, likelihood and manner in which an intervention can be fully implemented as planned and proposed.

Participants learned that their diet can affect multiple health conditions and all changed their diet in some way or another as a result. Of the 10 participants, mean change in total cholesterol was −26 mg/dL, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol was −6.1 mg/dL and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was −21.6 mg/dL, all with p values <.05.

The findings suggest that through experiential learning, students will consider a whole food plant-based diet and/or make some personal lifestyle changes as a result.

Feasibility of engaging college students in a 10-day plant-based diet. Health Education Journal. 2018
Elizabeth Salerno Valdez, Heidi Pottinger, Angela Urbon-Bonine, Burris Duncan