2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Mary Kendall Warner
Background: According to recent statistics by NHANES, there are more than 9 million children from the ages of 6 to 19 who are considered overweight. This age is very crucial because towards ages 18 and 19, these teenagers are heading off to college. With eating habits acquired from home causing the teen to be overweight before college, one can imagine the effects of a college campus with unrestricted food access.
Methods: A study was done to determine the relationship between physical activity and academic performance in 200 college students at the University of Kentucky. The students filled out surveys which examined their year in college, major, height, current weight, weight as a senior in high school, personal or family income, current GPA, GPA in high school, hours of television watched, hours spent studying, hours of physical activity per week currently and in high school (if any), and rate of physical activity currently and in high school (if any).
Subjects: The participants included 88 females (average age 20 +/- 1.41 years) and 112 males (average age 21 +/- 1.41 years).
Results: The average body mass index for females was 22.46 +/- 3.93 kg/ m2, within the “normal” range, and for males was 25.34 +/- 1.33 kg/m2, just on the “overweight” side. In general, the college students surveyed do not exercise as much or as intensely as they did in high school. The average male gained 11 pounds during college (+/- 2.12) while the average female gained 7.98 pounds (+/- 0.124). As well, it was found that in both males and females, the students who were physically active had a better GPA.
Conclusions: This research provides further evidence that being physically active is not only important for health, but can be important for higher academic achievement.