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Andrew Karam

Connie Douglas

UWRT

November L8,2OL4

Ethnography

On Wednesday, October 29th, a localfavorite dining hall on the University of North

Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), Crown, was observed. The observations were made at a prime

time of traffic, noon. Going at a dense time allowed recording a healthy amount of information.
The observation was made at a table that had a good bird's eye view of the room and lasted for
an hour. At first, the ethnicities of people and their sex were observed. Also, their gender and
how they communicated with each other was noticed. There were also groups of people who
shared the same ethnicity or race. Generally people who were foreign were speaking their

native language to one another. People would pull chairs from other tables and sit together and

talk. Many people were working on work together. The groups had their backpacks and laptops
out presumably working on homework for an upcoming class. However, there were quite

few

people who were sitting alone with their laptops up typing away. lt was interesting to see a

multitude of social groups in the immediate vicinity.


The next observation consisted of the workers behind the grill or bar. Due to the close

proximity of main course grill, a good view of the actions of the workers could be recorded. A

lot of these workers used hand gestures with one another to get a point

)mr

lnstead of

speaking, they would point out what to make or where to go. Usually the older looking
members would do use hand gestures to the younger workers who were buried away in the
kitchen. The rare instance that words were exchanged was when workers asked the orders of

the students. A simple and swift "what would you like today?" and response were the extent of
conversation between students and staff. However, the words spoken to others employees
when making the food caught my attention as well. They would use a condensed version of
what was ordered. An assumption was made that the condensed phrases were to keep
simplicity and cut down on time as the workers hurried away at making the order. The language
between workers was informal and friendly at best.
The next aspect of the time spent on the observation was the diet of students in the

dining hall. Since the grill and the workers there were being watched, the types of foods being
observed became the next aspect of the observation. A quick look around the room revealed

the foods that were on students' plates. However, there was a lack of "healthy" food on their
plates. Foodyuch a)patty melts, burgers, fries, pizza, and other greasy items dominated the
plates of students. The salad bar had a few people customizing their own sala$but the lines of

the gril! would extend to the entrance of Crown. Looking around, very few people had salads on
their plates. Most of the people who were getting salads were generally women. Thus,

conclusion was made that if a young audience were given the option between fatty foods and

healthy foods, a majority of them will pick the unhealthy food.


The observations that took place allowed a conclusion to be made that teens generally

eat unhealthy foods. Although efforts were made to sway students to healthier options,

students continued to eat from the greasy grill. Obesity in America is an issue that should not
be overrooked with

or"rW"

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are overweist

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are overweight

(Carmen). Students often pick unhealthy choices due to the accessibility of fatty foods. Students

do not have a parent or guardian to dictate their die! therefore, students will have freedom to
make their own choices on what to eat.

Cafeterias will often serve more unhealthy foods due to the popularity. Schools have
made an effort to put a heavy emphasis on eating healthy. For example, posters of eating Sreen

were plastered everywhere inside of the living centers. Since the dormitories house the bulk of

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students attending college, the posters would Sdin more recognition. However, these efforts
are considered to be a failure by many of the school's program (Power). Recent studies have
shown that teens that do not eat healthy yield poor performance in class, anxiety, trouble
sleeping, and diabetes. Therefore, a healthy diet can contribute to a healthier lifestyle and

better performance in the academic side of college life (Bratsis).


The causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, biological, behavioral and

cultural factors. Obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the bodV
one parent is obese, there ,,

$ififfi.nt

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chance that their children will also be obese.

However, when both parents are obese, their children have

rnd$ont

chance of being

obese. Although certain medical disorders can cause obesity, tess than?frrcent of all obesity is
caused by physical problems. Obesity can be caused by poor eating habits, lack of exercise,
stressful life events and low self-esteem. Being in a college setting can only increase these
causes of unhealthy eating {AACAP). Work induced by college courses can lead to stress and

depression. Accessibility to dining halls that serve unhealthy foods can contribute to poor

eating habits. Studies found that 95 percent of college students don't eat the recommended
amount of fruit and vegetables (at least five servings a day), and more than 60 percent don't
get the recommended levels of weekly physical activity. Laziness, a problem that many college

students have, can lead to a lack of exercise.

Unhealthy eating frequently becomes a lifelong issue. The reason most overweight
teens gain back their tost pounds is that they tend to go back to old habits such as excessively

eating unhealthy foods and lack of motivation. An overweight teen must therefore learn to eat
and enjoy healthy foods in moderate amounts and to exercise regularly to maintain a desired

weight (AACAP). Motivation through one's self or others can lead to the loss of weight. Since
students are generally young and have a high metabolism, losing weight tends to be easier.
ln conclusion, teens face the reality that eating unhealthy will have an effect on their

body. Encouraging healthy choices and exercise are the only remedies to the poor diet of
college students.

Power, Thomas G., et al. "Obesity Prevention ln Early Adolescence: Student, Parent, And
Teacher Views." Joumol Of Schoot Heofthf3l.! (20101: 13-19. Acodemic Search Complete.

Web. 11Nov. 2OL4.

P6rez Rodrigo, Carmen. "Current Mapping Of Obesity." Nutricion Hospitolorio 28.(2013): 2131. Acodemic Search Complete. Web. 11Nov. 2014.

Bratsis, Michael E. "Fight Obesity ln The Classroom." Science Teqcher 79.5 (2012): 6869. Academic Seorch Complete.Web. L1Nov. 2014.

"Obesity in Children and Teens." AACAP. American Academy of Child

Adolescent Psychiatry,

Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

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