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A preliminary evaluation of BMI status in moderating changes in body composition and eating behavior in ethnically-diverse first-year college women

Eating Behaviors
DOI: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2012.06.004
  • College
  • Bmi
  • Body Composition
  • Binge Eating
  • Night Eating
  • Intuitive Eating
  • Computer Science
  • Economics


Abstract The present pilot investigation explored whether BMI status at college entry moderated changes in body composition and eating behavior in a sample of 134 first-time, first-year undergraduate females (40% Black/African American). Participants had their body measurements [i.e. weight, BMI, hip and waist circumference (WC), percent body fat (PBF)] assessed and completed self-report measures of binge eating, night eating, and intuitive eating at both the beginning of the fall and the beginning of the spring semesters of their first year. Results for the 83 completers revealed that overweight/obese students (N=28) experienced greater gains in weight (p<0.05), BMI (p<0.05), and a trend towards increased WCs (p<0.06) across the first college semester relative to their underweight/normal weight peers (N=55). Night eating increased (p<0.05) and intuitive eating declined (p<0.05) over time in the full sample. Overweight/obese participants indexed greater binge eating scores (p<0.001) and lower intuitive eating scores (p<0.01) irrespective of time. Most anthropometric findings were diminished while all eating behavior estimates were retained in subsequent models adjusted for parental income. Preliminary results call attention to the need for continued elucidation of the roles of socioeconomic and regional diversity in affecting both the prevalence of overweight/obesity and the relationship between higher weight and body composition changes among first-year college women. Findings also provide tentative behavioral targets for college wellness programming that may prove useful in promoting healthy weight management while acclimating to the college environment.

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