Thompson: CSU should promote healthier eating habits

Madison Thompson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

The link between processed foods and cancer is clear. Colorado State University has an obligation to help students make better dietary choices by taxing unhealthy and processed foods sold on campus.

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CSU could potentially save on health care costs by changing the campus culture to center more on appropriate diet choices by increasing the price of processed foods. Even the simple dissemination of information on how to make healthier choices could have a significant impact on student well-being.

If you’re having trouble pronouncing the ingredients in your food, you probably shouldn’t eat it. A recent study by The BMJ found that regular consumption of ultra-processed food was associated with a higher overall risk of cancer, specifically breast cancer.

Emulsifiers are one of the most commons additives to improve texture and extend shelf life. These are commonly found in “margarine, mayonnaise, creamy sauces, candy, ice cream, packaged processed foods and baked goods,” according to a 2015 report by Reuters

Diet is an extremely important part of physical and mental health. While Colorado is actually the state with the lowest prevalence of obesity, a recent study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that people between ages 18-29 years have the highest rate of lifetime depression and anxiety at 15.6 percent.

Recent studies by WebMD suggest that an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety. Nearly 61 percent of college students have felt “overwhelming anxiety” and this influx of mental health issues leaves universities with a strain on their counseling resources.

For some students, this sometimes means appointments are bi-monthly instead of weekly. If Colorado State were to implement a pre-screening function for incoming freshmen like University of California Los Angeles to better assess counseling needs, they could add a component focused on diet and better correlate those choices with those also at risk for anxiety and depression. 

Money is evidently an influence on what students choose to eat. It’s tempting to choose quantity over quality. A Taco Bell box with three tacos, fries and a drink for $5 versus one falafel wrap from Garbanzo Express for $7? There’s no competition.

Evidently taxing food could do more harm than good by leaving students with fewer options and empty stomachs. Not only should processed, unhealthy foods be marked up, but healthier foods should cost significantly less.

The costs could potentially be offset by Colorado State paying for the tax on foods deemed healthy. This could also off-set costs for mental health resources as the more students eat healthier, the less likely they are to need consistent mental or physical health counseling.

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or onTwitter @heyymadison.

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