Back to school: Is higher education making you fat?

September 17, 2012, Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press)

A new study published today in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (APNM) looks beyond the much-feared weight gain common to first-year students and reports on the full 4-year impact of higher education on weight, BMI, and body composition.

"Gropper et al. present a unique study that follows students through their undergraduate years. It documents the nature of the weight gain and shows the differences between ," says Susan Whiting, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Saskatchewan.

"While dozens of studies have investigated weight gain during the freshman year of college and have reported on the so called "" (the commonly held belief that students gain an average of 15 lbs their first year of college), our study is the first to examine changes in weight, , , and over the 4-year college period," explains Sareen Gropper, a co-author of the study and researcher at Auburn University in Alabama.

The study followed 131 college students from the beginning of their first year to the end of their senior year. After 4 years in college about 70% of students had gained weight, which averaged at 5.3 kg, or 11.68 lbs; males gained significantly more weight, percent body fat , and BMI than females; and the percentage of participants considered overweight or obese increased from 18% to 31%.

"College and university students are often living away from home; they do not have a parent grocery shopping or preparing food for them. They can be distracted from their health by their studies and by extracurricular activities," says Terry Graham, Editor of APNM, and a professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. "While one can alter their body composition at anytime by tipping the balance of and expenditure, this investigation demonstrates how important the years of can be in this aspect. After 4 years the changes are quite substantial even though the daily, weekly, and even monthly responses are subtle. This study highlights that students need to make healthy choices and also that the institutions need to take steps to facilitate these decisions."

Gropper agrees, "Our findings clearly suggest the need for additional campus-based health promotion strategies for students from the freshman year through their senior year of college."

Explore further: The 'freshman 15' is just a myth, nationwide study reveals

More information: The paper "Changes in body weight, composition, and shape: a 4-year study of college students", published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, is available Open Access at www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/f … ll/10.1139/h2012-139

Related Stories

The 'freshman 15' is just a myth, nationwide study reveals

October 31, 2011
Contrary to popular belief, most college students don't gain anywhere near 15 pounds during their freshman year, according to a new nationwide study.

Recommended for you

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.