Impact of social support on the dietary behaviors of international college students in the United States

Mohammed Alshehri, Aaron J. Kruse-Diehr, Justin T. McDaniel, Julie Partridge, Dawn B. Null

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: International students in the US often adopt unhealthy dietary behaviors, perhaps due to lack of familiarity and social support. This study examined the impact of social support on international college students’ dietary behaviors. Participants: This study surveyed international students (N = 318) from five public universities in one Midwest state. Methods: Participants completed an electronic survey assessing self-reported eating habits and perceived social support using the Social Support for Eating Habits and the Starting the Conversation (STC) scales. Data analyses included multiple linear regression and multiple logistic regression to test the study’s hypotheses. Comparisons were made to explore the impact of perceived social support on international students’ dietary behaviors. Results: Significant predictors of unhealthy dietary behaviors included region of origin (specifically, being from East Asia, Europe and North America) and having families that discouraged healthy eating habits. Additionally, living with immediate family members significantly decreased students’ likelihood of having higher friend encouragement for healthy eating habits. Finally, the amount of time participants spent in the US significantly increased their likelihood of having more discouragement of healthy eating from their friends. Conclusions: International students’ unhealthy eating habits increased when their families discouraged them from healthy eating. Interventions promoting healthy diet among international students should consider including family members to increase social support for healthy eating habits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2436-2444
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of American College Health
Volume71
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • College students
  • diet
  • international students
  • nutrition
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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