Food for Thought

Studies show that one-third of all U.S. children are overweight or obese, and two Rollins professors are trying to do something about it by looking into how school environments affect children’s dietary behavior.

As part of the Rollins College Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program and Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Renewal Grant Program, Assistant Professor of Psychology Alice Davidson and Professor of Psychology Steven St. John teamed up with 12 undergraduate students and their grant research partners at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, to find out if a correlation exists between the length of lunch periods and eating habits.

“Our goal was to better understand the causes of childhood obesity and correct the mistakes we’re making when it comes to teaching our kids how and what to eat,” Davidson said. “It’s important to understand how various factors (the types of food they are being offered, how much time is allotted for lunch, and how quickly they are eating) contribute to the problem.”

Surveying more than 1,500 students at both long (minimum of 30 minutes) and short (25 minutes or less) lunch periods, researchers documented what they ate and how long they ate, and also measured body fat and Body Mass Index. The students surveyed in the Rollins study were on average about 20 percent overweight compared with the national average of about 25 percent. Based on preliminary findings, the study showed that:

• Regardless of the length of the lunch period, students spent about the same amount of time actually eating (between 7 and 8 minutes).

• Short lunch periods seemed to have the biggest impact on females. High school girls who had less time to eat tended to have higher body fat percentages (30 percent) than those who had more time (20 percent). For males, body fat remained pretty steady.

The Dharma Bums typescript

The Dharma Bums at Rollins

It’s been more than 50 years since Jack Kerouac wrote his famous novel The Dharma Bums while living in Orlando. When Kerouac died 11 years later, he left behind a literary legacy that Central Florida continues to honor today. He also left behind a typescript of the novel, littered with his and other editors’ handwritten notes and scribbles. As part of a permanent loan agreement with the Kerouac Project, that typescript now calls Olin Library Special Collections & Archives home. More...