Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jason W. Beckstead, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mary E. Evans, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gwendolyn P. Quinn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mary S. Webb, Ph.D.


Preference, Snack foods, Nutrition, College students, Food knowledge


Dietary choice is a complex mechanism that is influenced by multiple internal and external factors that impact individuals across the life span. The study was designed to examine how individuals make snack food choices based on integration of food motives (cues), appropriateness (nutritional index) as functions of nutritional knowledge, food-related motives, and information processing styles. Community college students participated in a multi part on line survey that ascertained food motives (FCQ), nutrition knowledge (FNQ), information processing (NFC), food pairing task and demographic background data. The single sided Lens model was used to determine the regression weights of the nine food motives. Familiarity, convenience and mood were noted as being important in the judgment process. Price and natural content were viewed as negatively affecting the judgment process. Food preference structures were analyzed as a function of selected variables (age, body mass index and number of correct choices on the food pairing task). With respect to preference, the high BMI group demonstrated the most distinct ranking structure. Hierarchal linear model (HLM) modeling was used to determine the influence of various food motives. Health, mood and food familiarity were all found to have significant random effects. Health concerns and mood were also noted to have significant fixed effects.

Based on the observations the following results are noted: (1) nutrition knowledge/background was not a significant factor in improving dietary choice scores; (2) different preference structures were exhibited on the paired comparison task as a function of BMI, number of correct choices and age and (3) information processing style was not associated with correct food choices or utilization of more dimensions to choose food options.

Finally, a recommendation was provided to improve health outcomes of community college students in improving their ability to make healthier dietary choices.