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Dissertation

Do College Freshman Engage in Healthy Weight Maintenance Behaviors? An Examination of Lifestyle Behaviors in The Transition from High School to College

18 July 2018

Abstract

Rates of overweight and obesity are high, considered a world-wide public health concern, and are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and health costs (Cawley & Meyerhoefer, 2012; Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2014). While behavioral weight loss (WL) has been extensively studied (Wadden et al., 2011), successful weight loss maintenance (WLM) and weight maintenance (WM) in general, are areas in need of further investigation. Research examining WM seems important, given the possible preventive value. Behavioral strategies that appear to contribute to successful WLM include eating a diet low in fat and caloric value, monitoring weight and dietary intake regularly, engaging in high levels of physical activity, daily consumption of breakfast, limiting screen time, and consistently sustaining behavioral changes (Thomas, Bond, Phelan, Hill, & Wing, 2014; Wing et al. 2015; Wing & Hill, 2001). Investigating the presence of these behavioral strategies among a young adult college population is of interest as this is a transitional period during which young people often make significant lifestyle changes that can impact health and these changes may persist in later adulthood. It is also a period associated with higher incidence of undesired weight gain (Anderson, Shapiro, & Lundgren, 2003; Holm-Denoma, Joiner, & Vohs, 2008; Levitsky, Halbmaier, & Mrdjenovic, 2004). This study examined the extent to which college freshmen engaged in behaviors identified as strategies associated with successful WLM and WM. In addition, we explored whether college students reported a change in lifestyle behaviors between spring of senior year in high school and fall of their freshman year of college. A total of 27 college freshmen participated in this study. It was hypothesized participants would report undesired weight gain and detrimental changes in behaviors from senior year of high school to freshman year of college. Results of the study were mixed, and interesting findings emerged regarding the lifestyle behaviors of participants.


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