Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2010


A THESIS Submitted to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences Under the Supervision of Professor Wanda M. Koszewski Lincoln, NE May, 2010 Copyright, 2010 Katie J. James


BACKGROUND The transition from high school to college can be a stressful lifestyle change for young adults. During this transition students develop a variety of health attitudes and behaviors that may have a negative impact on their overall wellbeing. OBJECTIVE To determine the correlation of BMI to dietary intake, fitness level and eating and exercise attitudes of college students. SETTING Participants completed an eating and exercise attitude survey, 2-day diet recall, and preformed three fitness tests at a Midwestern University through their Campus Recreational Center. PARTICIPANTS 772 students between the ages of 18-25 from a Midwestern University between the years of July 2004-July 2009. METHODS Calculations were performed to determine the subject’s BMI and Mean Adequacy Ratio (MAR). Rankings for three areas of fitness were based on tables provided by the YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual Fourth Edition. RESULTS The mean age of the subjects studied was 19.8 + 1.5 with seventy-seven percent of the total population being 20 years old or younger. There was a mean BMI of 23.5 + 4.9 with sixty-six percent (n=507), having a BMI that placed them in the normal classification. Around 72 percent (n=559) had a MAR score of less than 80 indicating an inadequate consumption of nutrients. When the MAR scores of the total population were compared to BMI no significant correlation was found (p=.970). On the Eating Attitudes Questionnaire, only 13 percent scored greater than 4 indicating disordered eating patterns. Results showed that BMI had a significant positive correlation with the Eating Score. As BMI increased the subjects’ cardiovascular fitness levels decreased. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The majority of college students studied did have a BMI in the normal range yet, most did not consume an adequate diet. Any education programs targeted to this population should include information about nutrition facts labels, portion sizes, exercise recommendations, and body image.