Project Title

You are what you eat: A biodiversity study of fast food

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Clint Penick

Additional Faculty

cpenick1@kennesaw.edu

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Biodiversity is often used as a measure of ecosystem health, but rarely do we think of the food we eat in terms of biodiversity. Nevertheless, the majority of foods we eat represent individual organisms that can be classified based on their genus and species. Here we applied biodiversity science to a novel habitat: fast food restaurants. Our project focuses on recording all of the major ingredients/nutrients in meals at fast food restaurants and comparing this to the diet of a typical college student. We organize these ingredients with both their genus and species names in a database, and we used this data to determine the species diversity and richness of the food that students eat. The diversity of diet likely has real world consequences in terms of human health, particularly as it relates to the microbiome.Most microbes in the human gut come from what we consume, a majority from undigested fibers in the large intestine. These gastrointestinal microbes affect the digestive system in various ways including helping with digestion, inflammation, insulin resistance, and even obesity. Therefore, our study hopes to understand how food availability may influence gut health.

Project Type

Event

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You are what you eat: A biodiversity study of fast food

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You are what you eat: A biodiversity study of fast food

Biodiversity is often used as a measure of ecosystem health, but rarely do we think of the food we eat in terms of biodiversity. Nevertheless, the majority of foods we eat represent individual organisms that can be classified based on their genus and species. Here we applied biodiversity science to a novel habitat: fast food restaurants. Our project focuses on recording all of the major ingredients/nutrients in meals at fast food restaurants and comparing this to the diet of a typical college student. We organize these ingredients with both their genus and species names in a database, and we used this data to determine the species diversity and richness of the food that students eat. The diversity of diet likely has real world consequences in terms of human health, particularly as it relates to the microbiome.Most microbes in the human gut come from what we consume, a majority from undigested fibers in the large intestine. These gastrointestinal microbes affect the digestive system in various ways including helping with digestion, inflammation, insulin resistance, and even obesity. Therefore, our study hopes to understand how food availability may influence gut health.