2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Objective: Stresses and pressures to succeed have been felt by practically everyone. College students in particular feel the stresses of classes, exams, projects, extracurricular activities, and work schedules. During times of stress and completing deadlines, people often do not take the time to care for themselves whether it be shower, change clothes, or even eat. Skipping meals and not obtaining proper nutrients is a severe problem amongst college students. Some people do not eat meals in order to lose weight, while others simply feel they do not have time. Skipping meals can cause cravings and bingeing to occur, which eventually leads to high consumption of triglycerides and fat-storage.
Methods: In order to observe the effects of skipping meals on weight gain and weight loss 200 surveys were distributed to undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 49 males and 151 females ranging in ages 18-26, with an average age of 20.4 ± 1.48 years. The participants completed a survey which inquired about their age, gender, and major of the students, along with questions relating to the amount of meals they eat in a day, how many meals they skip, reasons for skipping meals, the meal most frequently skipped, how much weight they have gained or lost within the past year, and whether or not they contribute this change in weight to skipping meals.
Results: It was found that the most frequently skipped meal is breakfast with 40 males (81.6%) and 94 females (62.3%) and this is mainly due to lack of time or lack of appetite. Also, it was found that two of the most popular living situations among undergraduate students are dorm rooms and Greek houses, and when these parameters were compared a statistically significant correlation between housing and frequency of meal eating was found (p<0.01). Those living in Greek housing ate more regular meals than those in the dorms. Lastly, it may be better to consume several small meals or snacks as opposed to one very large meal or snack. BMI was significantly related to the amount of snacks the subjects eat per day (p = 0.02). A lower BMI was found in those who consumed 6-7 snacks a day (average BMI of 19.9) compared to those who consumed 0-1 snacks a day (average BMI of 23.0)
Conclusion: This study wanted to further analyze the frequency of skipping meals in college and its subsequent effects on the body, because it has been shown that meal frequency may have a beneficial effect on reducing obesity or BMI. Therefore, it could be concluded that the prevalence of overweight and obesity will have a decrease with the increasing number of meals per day. Skipping meals can have a great effect on metabolic syndrome and risk for disease; however, it is concluded that more studies are needed to positively relate the two.