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Students on: Diet and Lifestyle


An insight into the diet and lifestyles of modern day students.

The Jamie Oliver generation is coming of age.  Students know the mantras of healthy eating and over 88% engage in exercise at least once per week[1]. Yet there is a persisting stereotype that students are lazy and survive on takeaway, junk food and alcohol.

The whole thing became a little oxymoronic.

So we decided to host a panel to demystify what goes on in student minds, and kitchens, when it comes to diet and lifestyle.

What we found is that it is not JUST about nutritional facts and tight purse strings – although these are factors - food can also be social and is part of the learning curve of University.

Q: Do all students live off takeaway and alcohol?

A:  No...

Students know the food pyramid and the 5-a-day rule. Our students reported that they do pursue a healthy, active lifestyle and prefer to cook with fresh ingredients wherever possible.   

The Takeaway Lifestyle is expensive

Partly, this is practical. Our panel unanimously agreed that takeaways are expensive; anyone that has their food delivered every evening is living the student version of the ‘champagne lifestyle’. It’s not sustainable. The stereotype that students survive solely on takeaway is outdated... except maybe when deadline season approaches!

It’s a learning curve

Learning to cook throughout University is a part of the parcel of gaining independence. Most arrive knowing how to cobble together a few basic dishes and not much else. However, the first year of study is so hectic that learning to cook is often put on the back burner. Our final year student reported that her cooking repertoire developed alongside her studying.

One student also commented on understanding the specific needs of her body because of her exercise regime as a dancer. Eating healthily is important, but students are also learning about the individual requirements of their bodies and getting the fuel that they need for their lifestyle.

Q: How often do students cook from scratch?

A: Depends...

Students admitted that their diet shifts in deadline season as they favour easier options, such as microwave meals and comfort food. Time is also a huge factor - if it can’t be done in less than thirty minutes, they don’t want to know.

Cooking can be social

One of our participants reported that cooking from scratch can be a social event and a bonding activity for housemates. For the majority of students the kitchen is communal; a place where ideas are shared and lots of conversation is centred on food. Students often learn from one another (and their disasters!) in the kitchen.

What does this mean for brands?

Student’s cooking journeys tell a story of development and potentially self-discovery as diet is an increasingly important part of our identity. Lifestyle movements such as vegetarianism, veganism and gluten-free are becoming more mainstream, particularly amongst young people.  Brands should listen to these shifts and appeal to students as they make an effort to learn how to fuel their body efficiently, tastily, and on a budget.



[1] Campus Media’s State of Students 2017 Report