The Factors That Influence Dietary Habits Among International Students in the United States


  • Amir A. Alakaam Marywood University, United States
  • Diana C. Castellanos University of Dayton, United States
  • Jessica Bodzio Marywood University, United States
  • Lee Harrison Marywood University, United States



dietary habits, dietary acculturation, international students, traditional food, western food


This study examines the dietary intake changes and factors related to dietary acculturation in international students attending an urban university in the United States. The researchers administered seven focus groups of college-age international students (n = 32) between June and August 2012. The participants were enrolled in Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. universities. A qualitative research inquiry was used for data collection, presentation, and analysis. An interview guide was developed to explore the dietary habits of international students. The results show the participants face many dietary challenges as a result of adapting to American culture. The major dietary-related influences include: the food environment, campus environment, religion, and individual preferences. Additionally, the consequences of dietary changes were associated with undesirable health outcomes including weight gain, increased blood glucose levels, increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and mental problems.

Author Biographies

Amir A. Alakaam, Marywood University, United States

AMIR ALAKAAM, M.B.Ch.B, M.S., is a licensed physician in Iraq and a Fulbright Scholar (2010) with a Master of Science in Nutrition from Marywood University, PA. Currently, he is a Graduate Assistant and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems, University of Southern Mississippi. 

Diana C. Castellanos, University of Dayton, United States

DIANA C. CASTELLANOS, Ph.D., R.D. is Assistant Professor in School of Education and Health Sciences, University of Dayton, OH. 

Jessica Bodzio, Marywood University, United States

JESSICA BODZIO, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. is a faculty and DPD director in Nutrition and Dietetics Department, Marywood University, PA. 

Lee Harrison, Marywood University, United States

LEE HARRISON, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.D.A., C.N.S.D., C.M.F.C is a chairperson, professor in Nutrition and Dietetics Department, Marywood University, PA.




How to Cite

Alakaam, A. A., Castellanos, D. C., Bodzio, J., & Harrison, L. (2015). The Factors That Influence Dietary Habits Among International Students in the United States. Journal of International Students, 5(2), 104–120.



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