Objective: To assess weight changes, exercise and diet behaviors among college students from the beginning of freshman year until the end of senior year.
Design: Longitudinal observational study.
Setting: Private university in St. Louis, Missouri.
Participants: College students (138 females, 66 males).
Main outcome measures: Weight and height were measured, body mass index (BMI) was calculated, and exercise and dietary behaviors were assessed by questionnaire.
Analysis: Changes in weight, BMI, exercise, and dietary patterns from the beginning of freshman year to the end of senior year.
Results: Females gained 1.7 +/- 4.5 kg (3.75 +/- 9.92 lb) [mean +/- SD] from freshman to senior year, and males gained 4.2 +/- 6.4 kg (9.26 +/- 14.11 lb) (both P < .001). Weight changes were highly variable between students, however, ranging from -13.2 kg to +20.9 kg (-29.10 to +46.08 lb).
Conclusions and implications: Weight gain was common but variable among college students. Importantly, exercise and dietary patterns did not meet the recommended guidelines for many college students, which may have long-term health implications.