Date of this Version
BACKGROUND The overweight and obesity rates have risen to epidemic proportions in all age groups in the United States, especially in those approaching the college years of life. Differences in macronutrient composition of the diet may have an influencing effect on the epidemic of obesity; however, further research is needed.
OBJECTIVES To determine the strength of correlation between eating patterns differing in carbohydrate (CHO) content and body fatness among college-aged students.
SETTING Participants completed several nutrition consultation forms, underwent a body composition analysis and performed four fitness tests at a university located in the Midwestern United States.
PARTICIPANTS 162 college-aged students enrolled in Nutrition 100 courses during the spring and fall 2011 semesters at a Midwestern university.
METHODS An automated self-administered 24-hour recall system was used to obtain caloric and macronutrient data from participants. The three-site skin fold method procedure was used to collect data on body composition and protocols for fitness tests followed the standards published in the YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual, 4th Ed.
RESULTS No significant association was found between a high carbohydrate eating pattern and any measure of adiposity. Carbohydrate intake, expressed as a percentage of total calories, was inversely related to both BMI (p = .009) and LBM (p = .023), while protein intake was positively associated with LBM (p = .032). None of the independent fitness tests were significantly associated with any of the classifications of carbohydrate intake; however, when fitness data was analyzed into a composite score, there was a significant, inverse correlation found between carbohydrate intake and 1.5-mile run time.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS College-aged students consuming diets that are high in carbohydrate do not have more fat mass compared to students consuming diets that are low or moderate in carbohydrate. Based on these results, registered dietitians or other health professionals should use caution when advocating a low carbohydrate eating pattern as the primary treatment of prevention of excess adiposity in college-aged students