2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Regina Marie Lewis
According to recent statistics, over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. More than 142 million Americans suffer from excess levels of weight and body fat, leading to a high body mass index (BMI) and increased risk of chronic diseases. The growing obesity epidemic hits every age group, including that of college students. In this study, 200 students at the University of Kentucky were administered a survey that asked for self-reported data on height, weight, and intakes of various foods. The BMI of students living on campus (117 students) and off campus (83 students) were recorded and compared. The study included 137 females and 63 males ranging from age 17 to 49 years (average = 20.14 + 3.11). It was found that, in the past six months, 32% of on campus students have gained weight, 22% have experienced weight lost, and 46% have maintained the same weight. In contrast, only 14% of off campus students have gained weight, 20% have lost weight, and 66% have maintained their current weight over the past six months. The average BMI of all students surveyed was 23.23 + 3.9 kg/m2; BMI's of on-campus (23.19 + 3.57kg/m2) and off-campus students (23.42 + 4.4kg/m2) were the same. This research provides support that living on-campus and eating most meals at cafeteria- and quick-serve food establishments can lead to weight gain in college students. The findings of this study can be used to provide educational programs to college students living on campus.