College student fast food consumption

Collin Hain, News Writer

Busyness in today’s world and especially among college students is a problem. The feeling of never having enough time to get everything done is a problem. Because of the constantly on-the-go mentality, the time and thought put into home cooked, healthy meals had gone down. Instead, the common fallback is going to fast food restaurants. While there are some college students who will eat fast-food multiple times a week, this is not always the case. Many are starting to look for healthier options. 

Fast food consumption among college students has gone down for a variety of reasons, but it is still a prevalent problem in today’s world. The industry of fast food will continue to evolve as people will continue to learn more about the dangers of eating too much fast-food and the far healthier alternatives that are starting to become more and more commonplace in today’s culture.  

Carol Erwin, assistant professor in family consumer science said a lot of people eat out in general, and in colleges, that is no different. There are many reasons for this. One main reason is exactly as the name says, it is fast. It is far more convenient to quickly go through the drive through to get food as opposed to going to the grocery store and planning out meals Erwin said. It is easier and takes less time than cooking a more balanced meal and with the busy life of college students it seems to make sense to them Erwin said. Another factor is fast food just tastes good to us Erwin said.  

“Restaurants spend countless hours making sure the food tastes delicious and appeal to our senses and makes us go back,” Erwin said. “Every time we go back, we know how it will taste and that it will taste the same.” 

Erwin said this is called the omnivores paradox. We are attracted to trying new foods, but we are comforted to the same foods, which is why we keep going back.  

While these fast- foods are delicious, they are not good for us, which is widely known. Erwin said fast-foods have higher amounts of sugar, sodium and saturated fat as well as a higher number of calories. The Dietary Guideline for Americans recommends less than 23 milligrams of sodium per day and one fast food meal can give that. The average person can handle this every once in a while, Erwin said. 

Dr. Jeff Allen, associate professor in industrial technology said fast food consumption has gone down among college students because people are more knowledgeable of the dangers of fast-food. People are more aware of what they eat and try to make going out to eat not a regular habit. 

“It is a conscious choice that people have to make,” Allen said. “Market will bend to the people’s will eventually based on what they buy.” 

Allen said when people buy intelligently, then it can be just as convenient and as fast as fast-food. Restaurants will respond to results Allen said.  

“Fast food will have more organic and vegan selections more available, it will evolve,” Allen said. “If one thing sells and another, doesn’t it won’t take very long for people to migrate.” 

An example of this is gluten free pizza not existing 30 years ago Allen said. Now it is more common place, the industry moves fast to create food that was edible, but also gluten free Allen said. 

Erwin said she believes the fast-food consumption in Wayne is lower than other town simply because there are less options in Wayne than the bigger cities. Erwin said when there are not as many options to go eat out it will not happen quite as frequently. Another factor contributing to the lower fast-food consumption is the actual time the businesses.  

“Hours aren’t super extended, the places in Wayne are not open super late, so it is harder for students to get a late-night meal,” Erwin said. 

While fast-food consumption has gone down and is below average in Wayne, college students will hopefully continue to learn even more about the dangers of constant consumption of fast food and the healthier alternatives that are becoming more common place in society.