Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
Dale R. Wagner
Overweight and obesity trends are on the rise, and young people are no exception. The popular phrase "Freshman 15" suggests that freshmen in college tend to gain weight faster than other populations. There is a growing body of literature that supports evidence of increased weight gain during the transition from high school to college. This study sought to examine not only weight changes among freshmen, but body composition, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference (WC) changes as well. Body composition was measured using air displacement plethysmography (Bod Pod®). This study examined changes in both males (n = 45) and females (n = 43), as well as a subsample of Division I collegiate athletes (n = 19). The present study evaluated changes that occurred among a final group of 107 participants. Measurements were taken at the beginning of the semester in September, again in December, and at the end of the school year in April. Self-report questionnaires based on nutritional and physical activity were also evaluated. Significant increases in weight (2.1 ± 2.6 kg), BMI (0.69 ± 0.87 kg/m2), and WC (1.7 ± 2.7 cm) did occur during the freshman year. However, the change in body composition was not significant (p > 0.05). There was no relationship between the nutrition responses and the body composition changes that occurred with the exception of a weak relationship between change in "total caloric consumption during your freshman year" and change in body mass (r = 0.25, p < 0.05), change in BMI (r = 0.24, p < 0.05), and change in %BF (r = 0.20, p < 0.05). Regarding exercise, "total time spent doing physical activity during your freshman year" was inversely correlated to change in %BF (r = 0.27, p < 0.01). Finally, differences between non-athletes and athletes were not statistically significant (p > 0.05). These findings indicate that there are significant physical changes that occur during the freshman year of college. These changes may be a result of changes in environment, caloric consumption, and decreased physical activity. However, results did not indicate that these changes include a significant increase in percent body fat.
Christensen, Stephanie V., "Weight and Body Composition Change During the First Year of College: A Study of Traditional Residence Hall Freshmen" (2008). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 209.
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