Changes in body weight, composition, and shape: a 4-year study of college students

December 2012
Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism;Dec2012, Vol. 37 Issue 6, p1118
Academic Journal
The objectives of this study were to examine changes in body weight, body mass index (BMI), body composition, and shape in a group of male and female students over the 4-year college period. Anthropometric assessments including height and weight (via standard techniques), body composition (via bioelectrical impedance analysis), and body shape (via 3-dimensional body scanning) were conducted at the beginning of the freshman year and end of the senior year in 131 college students. Four-year changes included significant ( p < 0.0001) gains in weight (3.0 kg), BMI (1.0 kg·m-2), body fat (3.6%), and absolute fat mass (3.2 kg). Males gained significantly ( p < 0.0001) greater amounts of weight, BMI, percent and absolute fat mass, and fat-free mass than females. Weight change ranged from -8.7 to +16.8 kg. About 70% of the participants gained weight, which averaged 5.3 kg; significant ( p < 0.0001) gains in BMI, fat-free mass, absolute fat mass, and percent body fat and significant ( p < 0.0005) increases in neck, chest-bust, waist, hips, seat, and biceps circumferences were also observed in this weight gain group. The percentage of participants classified as overweight-obese increased from 18% to 31%. The number of females and males with ≥30% and 20% body fat, respectively, increased from n = 14 to n = 26 (with n = 4 exhibiting normal weight obesity) over the 4-year period. The waist circumference changes were significantly ( p < 0.0001) correlated with both weight and percent body fat changes. In conclusion, the increasing prevalence of obesity and normal weight obesity among this college population suggests the need for additional health promotion strategies on college campuses.


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