Title page for ETD etd-02042007-204402

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McGrath, Kelly Ann
Author's Email Address kmcgrath@vt.edu
URN etd-02042007-204402
Title Dietary Patterns Associated with Weight Change in College Students
Degree Master of Science
Department Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hosig, Kathryn Wright Committee Chair
Anderson, Eileen S. Committee Member
Nickols-Richardson, Sharon M. Committee Member
Redican, Kerry J. Committee Member
  • diet patterns
  • breakfast
  • college students body weight
Date of Defense 2007-01-22
Availability unrestricted
Background: Dietary patterns that include recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dietary fiber, and dairy, combined with regular physical activity and frequent breakfast consumption are optimal choices for weight loss or weight maintenance over time. College students are at an increased risk for weight gain due to environmental and behavioral changes that are associated with decreased dietary quality and physical inactivity. Preventing weight gain in college students may have a profound impact on prevalence of overweight or obesity later in life.

Objective: To examine associations between weight change and dietary patterns in college students.

Design: A longitudinal observational study. Dietary intake and physical activity were self-reported on seven-day food records and compared to dietary guidelines for compliance with recommendations.

Subjects/Setting: Data from 80 students enrolled in a fall semester introductory nutrition course at a large state university were analyzed in the fall and spring semester .

Main outcome measures: Daily servings of total fruit (fruit and juice), total vegetables (fried and non-fried), dairy (regular and low-fat), whole grains, and dietary fiber, breakfast consumption, body weight changes and physical activity.

Statistical Analysis Performed: Associations between diet quality and weight change were analyzed using Chi-square analysis. Weight change was analyzed by diet quality and breakfast consumption using t-test and by metabolic equivalents (METHRS/day) using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) (p<0.05). Significant associations were analyzed by Pearson’s correlation (two-sided, p<0.05).

Results: Weight and body mass index (BMI kg/m2) were significantly higher compared to baseline. The majority of students did not meet recommendations for daily servings of fruit, vegetable, dairy, whole grains, and dietary fiber. Higher diet quality was significantly associated with more frequent breakfast consumption and students who maintained or lost weight reported significantly higher intakes of total fruit, low-fat dairy and whole grains.

Conclusion: Failure to meet dietary guidelines resulting in lower diet quality was distinctive of this population and was associated with significant changes in body weight over one academic year.

Applications: Educational interventions aimed at improving diet quality may inhibit weight gain commonly seen in college students.

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