Weight-Related Lifestyle Behaviors and Attitudes in High School and College Students

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Roshni S. Dhoot
Vishnu J. Alse


Obesity trends show that the prevalence of obesity is increasing drastically and that younger age groups are increasingly at risk. The purposes of this study were to determine if there are discernable differences between behaviors of high school students and college students and also between college students of normal weight and college students who are overweight/obese. This IRB-approved study surveyed approximately 80 high school seniors and 80 Indiana University students of various class standings. The study was developed from a survey published in 1989 in Seventeen Magazine called “May Obesity Survey.” The questions collected data related to age, BMI, and lifestyle, including physical activity levels, stress, and behavior. The software SPSS was used to perform statistical analysis. The findings showed a positive correlation (p<.001, r=.616) between students’ self-reported weight category and actual BMI (calculated by reported height and weight). College students with healthy BMIs exercise 4-6 times/week, while overweight and obese students exercise 1-3 times/week Χ2 (3) =8.95, p<.05. In addition, college students of normal weight are three times more likely to perform exercises of moderate to high intensity, such as strength training. A significant positive correlation was also found between the number of hours college students spent during weekends watching television, using a computer, or playing video games and body weight Χ2 (3) =8.75, p< .05. Equal numbers of normal weight and overweight/obese college students report desire to improve their health. One of the primary findings indicates that students are either not aware of their true weight status or willing to admit it to others. Therefore, increased education about the BMI index and consequences of excess weight may be the first step in fighting college obesity.


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Dhoot, R. S., & Alse, V. J. (2015). Weight-Related Lifestyle Behaviors and Attitudes in High School and College Students. IU Journal of Undergraduate Research, 1(1), 50–52. https://doi.org/10.14434/iujur.v1i1.13717
Applied Sciences


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