Trends in body fat, body mass index and physical fitness among male and female college students

Nutrients. 2010 Oct;2(10):1075-85. doi: 10.3390/nu2101075. Epub 2010 Oct 25.


There have been many publications in recent years reporting on the quantity of physical activity among college students using indirect indicators such as steps walked per day or time spent on physical activities. The purpose of this study was to describe the trends of physical fitness related to BMI and body fat among university students between 1996 and 2008. The results showed a significant decline in the average fitness levels measured as an estimation of VO(2max) for male and female students (p < 0.001 for both sexes). The linear trend for BMI by years was not significant for both sexes (p for males = 0.772, p for females = 0.253). On average, in the last 13 years, % body fat was increasing 0.513%/year for males and 0.654%/year for females. There is a significant indirect correlation between the student's VO(2max) levels and % body fat, r = -0.489; p < 0.001 for males; and r = -0.416, p < 0.001 for females. Approximately 23.9% of the variance in the VO(2max) levels in males and 17.3% in females can be explained by the variance in % body fat. The results support recent findings that physical fitness among college students is declining and body fatness is increasing.

Keywords: % body fat; BMI; VO2max levels; obesity; physical fitness; students.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Health / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Sex Factors
  • Students
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult