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

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. (In Press)

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Link to published version:: 10.1108/BFJ-10-2016-0495


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: Sheffield Business School > Service Sector Management
Identification Number: 10.1108/BFJ-10-2016-0495
Depositing User: Margo Barker
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2017 10:02
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2017 06:30

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