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Research Findings Reveal Students Want Healthy Eating App to Make Healthier Meal Choices On Campus

Stony Brook, NY, April 8, 2015 – A collaboration between the Faculty Student Association (FSA) and the Stony Brook University College of Business has yielded promising results in a study of a potential campus-based healthy eating smartphone app.

The challenge presented to Professor Denise Buhrau’s BUS 358 undergraduate students was to help study and make recommendations on the preferred characteristics of a smartphone app that Stony Brook students would use to make healthier eating choices. College of Business students held in-depth interviews geared towards a small sample population and then created a general survey which was distributed to 410 undergraduate students at two dining locations - Roth Market Fresh and West Side Dining.

The survey was developed to determine if there are relationships between student demographics and student psychographics related to an interest in healthy eating, whether or not nutrition facts influence perception of healthiness and choice behavior, if students believe a food app will make the purchasing process more efficient and what incentives could convince college students to download a healthy eating app.

An infographic of the survey breakdown

An infographic of the survey breakdown ( View full version)

The study concluded that athletes, women and resident students were more likely to download the app than non-athletes, men and commuter students. The survey results also showed that females place a higher importance on healthy eating. Overall, survey participants’ three most important features of the app included creating customized diet plans, menu substitutions for healthier meals, and tips for overall healthier eating choices. Less important to students was the ability to place orders or plan purchases in the app, as those surveyed didn’t believe that it would impact speed of service significantly. Daily promotions and coupons were not significant predictors to convince users to download the app.

“The work the College of Business students have done is a practical and professional example of how marketing research data can be used to drill down and make informed and specific recommendations. In this case, the students were able to identify characteristics of an app that would be used by a target audience of people likely to use it, not just conducting a survey of what people think would be good features to have in an app,” said Kevin Kelly, Executive Director of the Faculty Student Association.

In fall 2012, the FSA began working with the College of Business students to study ways to assist college students in making healthier meal choices. “It has provided our students the opportunity to work on useful projects that apply their classroom learning to real-world issues that benefit Stony Brook students,” according to Denise Buhrau, Assistant Marketing Professor of the College of Business. “Each semester, students further develop the research started by their peers the previous semester.”

Professor Buhrau’s students recommended that marketing efforts be directed towards female undergraduate students, residents and athletes, advertisements should be placed in locations with high traffic such as sporting events and residence halls and the app should focus on content rather than functionality because of students’ concern with overall eating habits.

For additional information about the College of Business at Stony Brook University, visit


About the College of Business

The Stony Brook College of Business focuses on research, teaching, and the application of innovation and excellence by emphasizing a cross-disciplinary, global approach to business while giving students the experiences and training needed to become business leaders after graduation. By helping students to apply their skills to real issues around campus, the College of Business works to give students the opportunities to obtain a great education while fortifying their resumes with practical application to their learning.


About the Faculty Student Association

The Stony Brook Faculty Student Association (FSA) is the University’s not-for-profit auxiliary services corporation that operates $71 million of campus businesses and services. FSA operates with no State support and generates revenues to a variety of programs and services, as well as to fund major capital improvements in support of the educational, health care, and outreach missions of the University. Over the past five years, FSA has provided funding for over $15 million in capital improvements, $4 million in University program support, $3.5 million in student employment, and $600,000 in student scholarships.

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