Public and Allied Health Faculty Publications

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Studies demonstrate that first-year university students are at high risk for weight gain. These reports typically rely on self-selected participants. The purpose of this study was to explore if students who chose to participate in a health-based research study had more desirable health measures and behaviors than students who completed health assessments as part of a first-year seminar course. Health measures included blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI), and percent body fat. Health behaviors included dietary patterns (Starting the Conversation questionnaire) and alcohol use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption). A total of 191 (77% female) participants completed testing in the self-selected “Health Study” group, whereas 73 of the 91 students (80%, 55% female) enrolled in the “Seminar” allowed their data to be used for research purposes. Baseline measures favored Health Study participants, including but not limited to fewer participants with undesirable BMI (≥25.0 kg/m2; males and females) and a smaller percentage of participants with undesirable BP (systolic ≥120 mmHg and/or diastolic ≥80 mmHg; females only). Differences in dietary behaviors at baseline were inconsistent, but Seminar students engaged in more problematic alcohol-use behaviors. While both groups experienced undesirable changes in health measures over time, the degree of change did not differ between groups. Changes in health behaviors over time typically resulted in undesirable changes in the Seminar group, but the magnitude of change over time did not differ between groups. Thus, results from first-year university students who self-select into health studies likely underestimate the seriousness of undesirable health measures and behaviors but may accurately reflect the degree of change over time.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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