Changes in weight and body composition across five years at university: A prospective observational study

Autoři: Tom Deliens aff001;  Benedicte Deforche aff001;  Laurent Chapelle aff001;  Peter Clarys aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan, Brussels, Belgium aff001;  Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Ghent University, C. Heymanslaan, Ghent, Belgium aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225187



The transition from high school to college or university has been shown to be a critical period for weight and fat gain. To date, no European data on weight and fat gain over the full trajectory of college or university are available. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate weight and fat gain among Belgian university students from freshman through senior year of university.


In this prospective observational study, a total of 340 university students were measured six times, i.e. at baseline (start of the first academic year) and at the start of the second semester of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth academic year. Objective measurements included body weight, height, body mass index (BMI), fat%, fat mass, fat free mass and waist circumference. Multilevel modelling was used to assess anthropometric changes over time according to sex.


From freshman through senior year of university, individual weight changes ranged from -5.2 to +15.7kg, and respectively 77.4% and 69.3% of students showed increases in BMI and fat%. Stronger increases in weight and BMI were found for males (5.7kg; 1.6kg/m2; both p<0.001) than females (2.2kg; 0.8kg/m2; both p<0.001) over the 4.5 year measuring period. Similarly, waist circumference increased more in males (4.7cm; p<0.001) than in females (1.0cm; p<0.001). In contrast, females (2.5%; p<0.001) showed a higher increase in fat% than males (1.0%; p = 0.019). Across sexes, the highest weight and fat gains were found during the first semester and during the final year of university.


Belgian university students gain a significant amount of body weight and body fat from freshman through senior year of university. Similar to the first semester, more pronounced increases in weight and fat were observed during the final year of university. Interventions aiming at preventing weight gain at university should not only focus on freshmen but also on senior students.

Klíčová slova:

Adipose tissue – Anthropometry – Body Mass Index – Body weight – Fats – Schools – Universities – Weight gain


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Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11