The purposes of this study were (a) to describe the prevalence of participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and overweight and obesity, and (b) to examine the associations between physical activity and weight status in a sample of university students from a rural university.
Data from a representative sample of 773 (361 women, 412 men) students participating in the National College Health Assessment Survey were examined. MVPA and height and body mass were self-reported. The body-mass index (BMI) was derived and used to classify subjects as normal, overweight, or obese.
Approximately 20% of students were inactive (0 d/wk), and 23% met the recommended amount of MVPA (≥5 d/wk). Prevalence of overweight and obesity was, respectively, 35.7% and 8.5% in men and, respectively, 15.6% and 8.2% in women. Analysis of variance revealed the mean BMI was not significantly different across levels of MVPA. Odds ratios showed higher levels of MVPA were significantly associated with lower risk of obesity in men but not women.
A large percentage of subjects are inactive or insufficiently active, and self-reported moderate to vigorous physical activity is significantly related to risk of obesity in men. Future studies should measure habitual physical activity or energy expenditure and body composition. Additional factors affecting obesity, such as television viewing and other sedentary behaviors, dietary intake, and heritability, should also be considered.
Eisenmann is with the Dept of Health and Human Performance, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. Bartee and Damori are with the Division of Kinesiology and Health, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071. In addition, Eisenmann and Bartee are with the Division of Medical Education and Public Health at the University of Wyoming.