The Nutritional Disparities Between Students of Differing Socioeconomic Status: An Undergraduate Research Study
Objective: The purpose of this research project was to determine if there are nutritional disparities between students of differing socioeconomic status (SES) households. The SES was determined using school classifications (i.e., title one versus non-title one) as a proxy measure. It was hypothesized that children attending a title one school would consume a greater amount of sugary drinks than students attending a non-title one school Participants: The parents/guardians of students in grades 3rd and 4th, from a title one school and from a non-title one school. Methods: The data were gathered from surveys that were sent home to the parents/guardians of the students. The surveys inquired about how many bottles of water, juice boxes, glasses of milk, cans of soda, bottles of Gatorade, and cans of energy drinks their child consumes on a single weekend day. Statistical Analysis: Shapiro Wilk tests were used for normality. Differences in the consumption of sugary drinks were analyzed using the Mann Whitney U test. Results: A total of 150 surveys were returned by students from both schools (n=57 from the title one school; n = 93 from the non-title one school). The results showed a median of 1.00 (IQR=1.25, 4.50) sugary drink for the non-title one school and 3.00 (IQR=0.00, 2.00) sugary drinks for the title one school. The results from the Mann-Whitney U Test showed a significant difference in consumption in sugary drinks between schools (U = 1509.00, p < 0.001). Conclusion: Students attending a title one school consumed a greater amount of sugary drinks than students attending a non-title one school. Parents are a strong contributor to the nutritional diet of children, however students of this age are developing self-efficacy to make their own choices regarding the food and drinks they consume. Researchers can intervene by increasing student and parent knowledge and by researching the effectiveness of instructions based on the new knowledge.