Relationship between body composition and physical activity, dietary intake and fitness status amongst a university student population.

Hopkins, Louise (2016) Relationship between body composition and physical activity, dietary intake and fitness status amongst a university student population. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

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Two thirds of individuals over the age of 16 years in the United Kingdom (UK) are overweight or obese (Public Health England, 2014). The greatest increases in overweight and obesity incidences have been found to occur between the ages of 18 and 29 years (Racette, Deusinger, Strube, Highstein & Deusinger, 2005), a time in an individual’s life in which they are likely to attend university. Individuals who are overweight or obese during the years of higher education, are 70% more likely to become obese as an adult, compared to their normal weight counterpart (Serd, 2012). ‘Freshman 15’ is in reference to the perception deriving from the United States (US), that university students gain 15 pounds (6.8kg) of body weight during their first year (Brown, 2008). Despite the obesity epidemic becoming apparent within both the US and the UK, few studies have addressed the extent of the observation within a UK setting. The purpose of the present study was to explore the concept of the ‘Freshman 15’ by investigating the relationships between body composition (BC) (body mass index; BMI & waist-to-hip ratio; WHR) and physical activity (PA), dietary intake and fitness status. Thirty-eight University of Chichester students attended a laboratory session where assessments of height, weight, waist circumference and hip circumference were carried out. Students also completed an International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) (Booth, 2000) and a three-day food diary was distributed during the same visit. Students performed an Aero Test (Wilkinson, Fallowfield & Myers, 1999) during a separate visit in order to measure aerobic fitness. Results showed that first year students of the current study reported significantly lower BMI values, compared to those in later years of education. Negative relationships were found between BMI and WHR and vigorous levels of PA and fitness status. However, no significant relationships were found between BC and dietary intake. Resting heart rate (RHR) was found to be a strong predictor or an individual’s aerobic fitness. It is possible that weight gain is present throughout all years of university. It is also suggested that individuals who participate in higher levels of vigorous PA, are more likely to possess a healthier body weight and higher levels of aerobic fitness. Future research within the UK replicating the design of previous studies would provide academics with a more accurate perception of the extent of weight gain 4 amongst UK universities. Information may then be used to construct interventions within higher education in order to tackle the issue.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BSc (Hons.) Sport & Exercise Science (Physical Activity for Health)
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Departments > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Undergraduate Dissertations
Depositing User: Ann Jones
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2016 15:51
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016 15:51

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