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Q&A: College Students' Diet

Question: I'm writing a short paper for an intro seminar, and my potential topic is the Stanford diet in comparison to other colleges. I was wondering how I could find articles or books that relate to this topic. Where should I look, what key terms should I be using?

Answer: You might not be able to find anything specifically about Stanford students; but you might want to read some articles on college students' eating habits in general; and then compare the findings to your observations about Stanford students. Here are a couple of good databases that you can start with.

One good source for journal articles will be Expanded Academic ASAP which you will find in our database page. Once you are on the Expanded Academic ASAP search page, I suggest clicking on Advanced Search at the top of the page. Then search for Keywords "College Students" AND "Eating habits" NOT "Eating disorders" (assuming you are not interested in articles about eating disorders specifically).

Another place to explore is the University Wire on the Database LexisNexis. Below are the steps:

  1. Enter LexisNexis, and select the choice that says "LexisNexis Note: also known as Lexis Nexis Academic Universe".
  2. When you get to the main LexisNexis page, click on the tab at the top that says Guided News Search.
  3. Select from the News Category pulldown menu: University News. Then select news source: University Wire.

This indexes full-text articles from University newspapers, including Stanford Daily. You can see all the sources if you click on the hyperlink next to the news source: University Wire that says "sources." There will probably be lots of articles complaining about food, or talking about the need for certain types of food. Notice that the default date range is the last 6 months. You can get more articles by choosing a different period of time.

I searched for food or diet in headline, lead paragraph or terms, and had more than 1000 documents until I restricted the search to the last month. The first one on my list was: Illinois schools try to incorporate healthier foods into students' lives (and like all articles in Lexis Nexis, it's full-text). The keywords "campus food" also gave me a lot of results, but I had to change my date range to all available dates. I got one titled: "Eating at U. North Carolina-Charlotte may affect students' health." You have to experiment with search words, and play around with choosing for your keywords to be in Headlines or in all text.

To find additional articles, you can use the same search terms in some of our other databases, such as ProQuest Social Science Module, ERIC (an education database), or Medline. You can find all of these databases by using the search box on the Databases page.

One more avenue to explore would be to visit the Web sites of various universities' campus dining services -- for example Stanford Dining. By comparing the dining options of various universities, you may be able to draw some conclusions about the diet of Stanford students.

If you have any other questions, or want someone to show you some more tips on searching, please stop by the Information Center desk in Green Library (Mon-Wed 10-9pm, Th-Fr 10-5, Sunday 12-5pm).

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