Newswise — Students at South Dakota State University are carving the pathway toward a healthier college experience with the Get FRUVED—Get your FRUits and VEgetables—social marketing campaign.

Get FRUVED is a USDA-funded research study developed by students for students to change the environment to support health eating, physical activity and stress reduction.

It is a multi-institutional project with three other universities—the University of Tennessee, West Virginia University and the University of Florida. “We have a wide range of events planned for the year and students will benefit from each event differently,” said Krista Leischner, a graduate research assistant and campus co-coordinator of Get FRUVED. “We’re aiming to create healthier lifestyles, not just a healthier day or two.”

Sunrise yoga, cooking demonstrations, a food drive and bubble meditation are a few of the fall events.

"Each event incorporates a different component of healthy living,” said Andrea Hanson, a graduate research assistant and campus co-coordinator of Get FRUVED. “I would like students to learn that the key to a healthy lifestyle is maintaining balance. All Get FRUVED events will affect students in unique ways, and attending more than one event will encourage students to strive for this balance in their own lives.”

Participating students were surveyed for beginning baseline measurements including weight, height, physical activity, sleep and ability to manage stress. Next spring, Hanson and Leischner will assess outcomes. “This community-based process brings in the target audience to develop the material,” said Kendra Kattelmann, director of the didactic program in dietetics at SDSU. “We have students from several majors helping with the project, so we are getting ideas and input from students with varying educational interests and outlooks.”

The group of students involved in Get FRUVED will also assess the campus environment and the perimeter around campus, looking for wellness indicators including walkability, bikeability and healthy dining and vending options.

Through the USDA, Kattelmann is part of a multistate consortium that carries out activities to support obesity prevention. Kattelmann and SDSU students work closely with partner institutions to share ideas, events and feedback. “It’s great to connect with universities around the country. We get a wider range of students’ habits in varying regions,” Kattelmann said. “The resources and skills that one university might lack, the other partner university might excel at. We are bringing our goals together to make a healthy lifestyle easier for students.”

When the project wraps in two years, the environment and students will be reassessed to calculate improvements.

"We are hoping to use this project as a toolkit to change behaviors," Kattelmann said. "By assessing the campus environment, in addition to promoting healthy activities and events, we are taking steps toward making the healthier choice the easier choice."

Event updates are posted weekly on the Get FRUVED Facebook page, GetFruved SDSU, and @getfruvedsdsu on Twitter and Instagram.

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