October 30, 2017

FOOD WEEK | Understanding How Surroundings Shape Eating Habits

Print More

Deciding what, when, and where to eat may seem like a simple task at first. But when our schedule becomes busy with clubs & classes, overwhelmed by personal circumstances, or just unorganized in general, proper and balanced eating habits can often take a backseat.

That is why, in preparation for Food Week on Sunspots, I was inspired to apply design thinking towards studying how Cornell students’ eating habits are affected by their surroundings.


Welcome to the series:

Understanding Surroundings Through Design Thinking


To more effectively present my findings, I condensed interviews with each student into “profiles.” Below are 5 Cornell students who shared their experiences, habits, and thoughts about their diets.

janelle charles chelsea danyal sisi


At the start, my hypothesis was that because Cornell students are busy, many choose to skip meals or find whatever is closest to them. After the interviews, key insights were that:

  1. The more a student cooks, the healthier then think they are
  2. Most students don’t cook because they think it takes too much time to prepare or buy groceries
  3. Everyone thinks they can eat healthier
  4. Everyone’s diets are rather similar relative to proximity (i.e., students living in Ctown eat in Ctown)
  5. Sleep schedule can affect whether a student eats breakfast or not, and also what they eat for the rest of the day
  6. Everyone who eats in Collegetown thinks that there isn’t a good balance of vegetable, meat, and grain options in the restaurants there
  7. Outside of personal schedules, some just have an arbitrary habit of eating at certain times
  8. Not one of the interviewees spoke of consistently eating fruits in their diet
  9. None of the interviewees snacked or ate after midnight
  10. Cereal and toast are the most common things people eat for breakfast