Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


First Advisor

Lisa Franzen-Castle

Date of this Version



American Psychological Association (APA) Style


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Lisa Franzen-Castle. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Candace Sorden


The objective was to assess whether the food environment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campuses supports healthy eating behaviors using components of the Healthy Campus Environmental Audit (vending, dining, and convenience store audits). Secondary aims were to compare the UNL food environment to other college campuses and explore whether there are existing health promotion and obesity prevention initiatives, programs, pledges and/or policies at UNL.

Research team members accessed a secure online website to review training materials prepared by Syracuse University. Evaluators did audit practice trials to meet inter-rater reliability score standards (>80%). audits were conducted at designated sites and data were entered into Qualtrics. Data collection took place during 2015-2016 on and within a 1.5-mile radius of the UNL City and East campus boundary. The lead researcher at Syracuse University provided comparisons to other institutions, who were participating members of the NC1193 multi-state research group.

Analysis for the dining environmental audit included nonparametric statistics, fisher’s LSD post hoc statistics, and confirmatory factor analysis. The convenience store audit used latent class analysis. Dining and convenience store audits were analyzed with inter-class correlations (ICC) and ANOVA. The vending audit was analyzed with the Health Density Vending Machine Audit Tool snack scores (range 6-24) and beverage scores (range 6-20). The policy audit utilized a 3-point semantic differential scale to assess each policy topic (range 0-2). Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.

At UNL, dining halls/cafeterias had healthier foods and supports compared to fast food and sit-down venues, most convenience stores fell into the least healthy classification range (56%), and most initiatives/programs and/or policies that support healthy food environments were scored above average. In comparison to other institutions, only vending machines scored more healthfully on average compared to the total institution mean. All food environment types could benefit from positive environmental modifications. Evaluating college campuses through ongoing food environment and policy audits may provide a better understanding of the environment and lead to more informed and effective obesity prevention strategies in this setting.

Adviser: Lisa Franzen-Castle