The Healthfulness of Eateries at the University of Waterloo: A Comparison across 2 Time Points

Can J Diet Pract Res. 2020 Jun 1;81(2):72-79. doi: 10.3148/cjdpr-2019-031. Epub 2019 Nov 18.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the healthfulness of a sample of campus eateries at 2 time points, 2 years apart. Methods: Five eateries at the University of Waterloo were audited using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey adapted for university campuses (NEMS-UC) in 2015 and late 2017-early 2018. Based on the availability of healthy options and facilitators of and barriers to healthy eating, possible NEMS-UC scores ranged from -5 to 23 points. Results: Scores were low, ranging from 7 to 14 (mean = 10.8, SD = 2.59) points in 2015 and 7 to 13 (mean = 9.6, SD = 2.19) points in 2017-2018. For all eateries except 1 residence cafeteria, scores at time 2 were the same or lower than scores at time 1. All venues carried whole fruit and vegetable options and lower-fat milks, and most offered whole-wheat options. However, healthier items were often located in low-traffic areas, priced higher than less healthy options, and sometimes limited to prepackaged items. Misleading health messaging was also evident. Conclusions: Increased availability, accessibility, and visibility of healthy offerings is needed to enhance campus food environments and support healthy eating patterns, while barriers such as contradictory messaging should be minimized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Canada
  • Diet, Healthy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environment
  • Fast Foods / statistics & numerical data
  • Food Preferences
  • Food Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fruit
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Universities*
  • Vegetables
  • Young Adult