Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition Science


Health Science and Human Ecology

First Reader/Committee Chair

Malik, Neal


Background: Understanding the roles of food and nutrition during adolescence is critical, given they support physical growth and prevent, manage, and treat chronic disease as adolescents reach adulthood. Food and nutrition education interventions in schools may modify adolescent eating patterns and encourage the selection of healthier options among adolescents. Students attending public schools in the U.S. receive less than eight hours of nutrition education each year and high school students receive an average of seven hours. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perspectives, exposures, and attitudes towards nutrition education and dietary habits during and after public high school education among university students attending a public university in southern California.

Methods: Participants were recruited via classroom announcement and email. Participants received a link to complete an online survey between February to March 2024. Questions addressed perspectives on and exposure to nutrition education in public high schools and attitudes towards nutrition education and current dietary habits. Data were analyzed using SPSS.

Results: A total of 144 surveys were recorded and a total of 130 survey responses were analyzed. Majority of participants included 71.5% (n=93) females, ages 18-20 years old (29.2%, n=38), and of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish race/ethnicity (56.9%, n=74). According to the results, 87.7% (n=114) attended a public high school in California and 69.2% (n=90) completed a health-related course. Those who completed a health-related course, strongly/somewhat agreed to learning about foods found in each food group (81.1%; n=73) and 62.2% (n=56) strongly/somewhat disagreed to learning about the harmful effects of using diet pills. A weak, positive correlation was found between “Learned” and “Importance” of “Approaches to Maintain Healthy Weight” (rs (80) = 0.243, p = 0.028). However, based on the results as a whole, we failed to reject the null hypothesis which suggested that there is no relationship between high school nutrition education and current dietary habits among college students. Out of 122 responses, 91.8% (n=112) believed they would benefit from nutrition-related information and wanted more advice on recipes and cooking skills (29.5%; n=33) and losing weight (23.2%; n=26). Respondents (n=122) received most nutrition information from the web (27%; n=33). Out of 130 participants, 92% (n=120) preferred to get their dietary information from the internet/websites/links (41.7%; n=50).

Conclusion: Results indicated that the majority of respondents have some degree of uncertainty about whether they were taught certain nutrition-related topics learned during high school. Most believed that nutrition-related topics were very or extremely important and should be taught during high school. These findings could be used to inform educators about the delivery of health information in high school.