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Levitsky et al – The freshman weight gain: a model for the study of the epidemic of obesity

Levitsky, D.A., Halbmaier, C.A., and Mrdjenovic, G., “The freshman weight gain: a model for the study of the epidemic of obesity” International Journal of Obesity, 28 (2004): 1435-1442.

Key Words: obesity, weight gain, body weight measurements, obesity epidemic, and junk food.

This study observes the weight gain of freshmen during their first 12 weeks at Cornell University. Students that participated in the experiment were instructed to fill out a questionnaire.  This questionnaire was designed to reveal particular behaviors and activities that were associated with weight gain.  The design method was a correlational study.  This type of study is used when you are comparing variables to see if they have any relationship.

Levitsky, Halbmaier and Mrdjenovic study sample consisted of a total of 60 students.  The students were weighed during the first week of the semester, then again 12 weeks later. The researcher’s administered a questionnaire for the students to complete.

In this study, the researchers discovered that “after adjusting for clothing weights, the mean weight gain of the freshmen was 1.92.4 kg. Two regression models generated from the questionnaire were fitted to the weight gain. The first linear regression model (Model 1) accounted for 58% of the variance and indicated that eating in the ‘all-you-can-eat’ dining halls accounted for 20% of the variance in weight gain. Snacking and eating high-fat ‘junk food’ accounted for another 20%. When initial weight was used as a covariate in Model 2, the consumption of junk foods, meal frequency and number of snacks accounted for 47% of the variance.” (Levitsky, Halbmaier, Mrdjenovic)

To conclude, the study shows that during the first semester of college, freshmen gain a significant amount of weight.   The weight gain is considerably greater than that observed in the population.  Levitsky, Halbmaier and Mrdjenovic find that their observations will be useful to test a variety of techniques in hopes of reducing the epidemic of obesity.

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