Changes in weight and health behaviors from freshman through senior year of college

J Nutr Educ Behav. Jan-Feb 2008;40(1):39-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2007.01.001.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Weight Gain / physiology