Eating habits associated with body weight gain in female university students : a UK-based study of Slimming World members

SPRAKE, Eleanor, LAVIN, Jacquie, GRABOWSKI, Peter, RUSSELL, Jean, FEATHERSTONE, Megan and BARKER, Margo (2017). Eating habits associated with body weight gain in female university students : a UK-based study of Slimming World members. British Food Journal, 119 (12), 2571-2582.

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    Purpose: To examine dietary habits, cooking skills, physical activity levels and perceived reasons for weight gain in relation to levels of body weight gain among university students in the UK. Design/methodology/approach: This study explored factors associated with body weight gain in a cross-sectional study of British university students who were actively trying to lose weight. University student members of a national commercial slimming programme completed an online survey about weight gain, eating habits, cooking abilities and physical activity levels. Non-parametric tests and regression analysis were employed to examine factors associated with weight gain. Findings: The dataset comprised 272 current students. The majority of students (67%) reported weight gain between 3.2 and 12.7 kg during university: 20.4% reported to have gained >12.7 kg. Students commonly attributed their weight gain to academic stress and nearly all identified with needing support to learn to cook on a budget. Students reporting greatest weight gain had most frequent consumption of ready meals & convenience foods, take-away & fast foods, and least frequent consumption of fruits & vegetables. Weight-stable students reported lowest consumption of alcohol and were most able to cook complex meals. Students who reported greatest weight gain reported lower physical activity levels. There were inter-correlations between cooking ability and lifestyle factors. In a multivariate model, low physical activity and frequent consumption of ready meals and convenience food independently predicted weight gain. Research limitations/implications: Prospective studies are needed to confirm these cross-sectional associations and to qualitatively explore how the university setting may contribute to the effects. Practical implications: Strategies to address students’ reliance on fast and convenience food, avoidance of fruit and vegetables, poor cooking confidence and low physical activity may benefit student health and well-being. Social implications: Originality/value: The study adds additional perspective to understanding student weight gain at university in that it focuses on a a body weight-conscious sub-group of the student population, as opposed to the general population of students

    Item Type: Article
    Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Business School > Department of Service Sector Management
    Identification Number:
    Page Range: 2571-2582
    Depositing User: Margo Barker
    Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2017 10:02
    Last Modified: 19 Aug 2020 16:04

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