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Researchers find discrepancies in weight and behavior among women attending two-year and four-year colleges

October 22, 2010
  • A study finds that women who attend two-year colleges may be more prone to eating fast food than women in four-year colleges
A study finds that women who attend two-year colleges may be more prone to… (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles…)

Women who attend two-year colleges may be at greater risk for being overweight and obese than their peers in four-year schools, a new study finds.

Researchers compared weight and other lifestyle factors among men and women attending two-year and four-year colleges. The study included 16,539 students attending 14 two-year colleges and 13 four-year colleges or universities in Minnesota. Through self-reported surveys, study participants noted their weight, physical activity, how much television they watched, how much soda and fast food they consumed, and what methods they used for weight loss.

Women in two-year colleges were more likely to be overweight or obese, engage in less physical activity, watch more television, drink more soda, eat more fast food and use diet pills more than women attending four-year colleges.

However, women in four-year colleges were more apt than those in two-year schools to use potentially harmful methods for weight control such as laxatives, binge eating and vomiting.

Fewer differences showed up among men in the two institutions; those in two-year colleges were more likely to do less strenuous activity and indulge more in soda and fast food than those in four-year colleges.

When researchers adjusted for factors such as age, race and ethnicity and living situation, most of the associations remained.

All students on average didn't meet national health recommendations.

"Given that many of the associations between student status and weight behaviors remained significant in adjusted models," the authors wrote, "these findings suggest that there are other lifestyle factors that need further exploration in future research."

The study was published online recently in the journal Obesity.

-- Jeannine Stein / Los Angeles Times

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