Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Nutritional Sciences

Major Professor

Sarah Colby

Committee Members

Elizabeth Anderson Steeves, Katie Kavanagh, Wenjun Zhou

Abstract

Objective: To utilize a comprehensive approach for developing and evaluating a healthy vending intervention introducing a healthy bean snack product in campus vending machines to positively impact factors related to college students’ dietary behavior. Methods: The full project included five sequential phases to inform, develop, and implement a vending intervention that introduced a specific healthful dried bean snack product in campus vending machines. First, we conducted multiple-methods cognitive interviews with 60 college student vending users to select the most liked, preferred, and influential product, price, and promotion for the intervention. Next, we used observations and intercept surveys to describe and compare vending contents, sales, and consumer characteristics. We then used intercept interviews to compare awareness, attitudes, and purchases of the intervention product with and without a point-of-purchase promotion. Finally, we implemented the determined intervention and compared changes in perceived healthfulness of campus vending machines and environmental, personal, and behavioral factors related to the intervention product from pre- to post-intervention and between vending and non-vending users. Demographics and vending usage measures were assessed and compared throughout the project. Results: The five phases included a total of 255 student participants, with a majority being female (63%) and white (82%). Approximately 50% of participants used vending machines at least once per month with the most common reasons for purchasing vending items being hunger, lack of time, and convenience and reasons for choice being price, health, and taste. We also found a significant relationship between higher frequencies of vending usage and higher weight status. The intervention strategy only included the product, due to no significant differences in intervention product awareness, attitudes, or purchase with the promotion. Intervention impact overall was low with only 5 participants (11%) aware of the intervention product. Vending users significantly increased their perceived healthfulness of vending from pre- to post-intervention, with a significantly greater increase compared to non-vending users, after controlling for diet. Conclusion: This project provides an example of how combining marketing and behavioral research and principles can inform the comprehensive development and measurement of healthy vending interventions on college campuses.

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