College-Age Adults Are Most Likely to Waste Food

Participants in a survey tended to deflect when the topic came


Research from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences finds that 18- to 24-year-olds, especially college students, have a higher tendency to waste food. 

The researchers wanted to get a better idea of why this age group, especially those who are college students, are such high food wasters and how their residence typeon- or off-campusplays a role. They discovered that during the transitional time of young adulthood, many of the food management behaviors that might prevent food waste haven't been learned yet or haven't been necessary.

If college students have eaten all their meals in all-you-can-eat university dining halls, they say, the students may have not yet learned how to plan and grocery shop for meals. Other constraints such as transportation and environmentmaybe no access to a refrigerator to store leftoversmay also contribute.

Cassandra Nikolaus, doctoral candidate in food science and human nutrition and lead author of the study, says another important finding was that many of the young adults in the study didn't see their personal food-wasting behaviors as part of the overall problem of food loss and waste in the United States, nor did they think changing their behavior could help the problem.

A major theme that emerged was a sense of apathy about food waste, or the tendency to deflect. Many participants were not even aware of how much food is wasted, for example, in a university dining hall.

"We picked up on this desire to deflect. 'It's not me, it's them,'" Nikolaus says. 

The truth isit’s all of us.


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