Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling of Students' Dietary Intentions/Behaviors, BMI, and the Healthfulness of Convenience Stores
When dietary behaviors are habitual, intentions are low, and environmental cues, such as the consumer food environment, might guide behavior. How might intentions to eat healthily and ultimately actual dietary behaviors, be influenced by the consumer food environment (including the availability and affordability of healthy foods) in convenience stores? This study will determine pathways between the healthfulness of convenience stores and college students' dietary intentions/behaviors, and body
... ehaviors, and body mass index (BMI). Methods: Through multilevel structural equation modeling, a comparison was made of students' healthful meal intentions (HMI); intake (fruits/vegetables, %kcal/fat, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and whole-grains); and measured BMI; as well as the healthfulness of convenience stores (fruits/vegetables availability/quality, healthy food availability/affordability). Data was collected on 1401 students and 41 convenience stores across 13 US college campuses. Results: Controlling for gender, HMI was negatively associated with SSBs (β = −0.859) and %kcal/fat (β = −1.057) and positively with whole-grains (β = 0.186) and fruits/vegetables intake (β = 0.267); %Kcal/fat was positively (β = 0.098) and fruits/vegetables intake (β = −0.055) negatively associated with BMI. Campus level, fruits/vegetables availability were positively associated to HMI (β = 0.214, β = 0.129) and directly/negatively to BMI (β = −2.657, β = −1.124). Conclusions: HMI modifies dietary behaviors, with energy from fat and fruit/vegetable intake the most predictive of weight. Availability of fruit/vegetables in convenience stores make it easier for young adults to eat well.