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. Methodology This study explored factors associated with body weight gain in a cross-sectional on-line 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. Chi-Square tests were employed to examine factors associated with categories of weight gain. Findings The dataset comprised 279 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 convenience foods, take-away and fast foods, and least frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables and attributed stress as a contributing factor. 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. Research Limitations Prospective studies are needed to confirm these cross-sectional associations and to 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. Originality The study is unique in that it focuses on 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: 10 Jul 2018 13:54
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 23:35

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