Students ‘put on 10 pounds of weight at university’

student weight

University students graduate 10 pounds heavier than when they started, according to a US study.

The study by the University of Vermont measured student weight and BMI at the beginning and end of their first and second semesters, and again at the end of their final year.

Students in the US spend four years studying, compared to the usual three for undergraduates in the UK.

Health risks

At the beginning of their studies, the mean weight of the students was 147 pounds. By the end of university, this had risen to 157 pounds.

Nearly a quarter (23%) were overweight or obese when starting university. By the end, 41% were in that category – a 78% increase.

This added weight comes with increased health risks, according to the new research.

Obese young adults are at risk of diabetes, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome and psycho-social distress.

The risk of becoming obese by the age of 30 – which can double a person’s mortality rate – is much greater for obese adolescents than for those of normal weight.

Weight gained throughout

While a third of the students gained most of the extra weight in the first year, the study recorded weight gain during each year of studying.

This suggests health practitioners shouldn’t limit their focus solely to the first year, but that it should be extended to the whole time at university.

While there was no direct connection among the students between lifestyle factors and weight or BMI gain, only 15% of the sample met the exercise target of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.

And for most students, fruit and vegetable consumption was also below the recommended intake.

The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.


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