Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging


Marjorie R. Freedman


College, Obesity, Overweight, Underweight, Weight gain, Weight loss

Subject Areas

Nutrition; Psychology


This observational research examines body-mass-index (BMI) changes in multicultural freshmen attending a large public urban university. It explores psychological and behavioral factors associated with gains and loss in BMI. The study utilizes an online survey distributed in September 2008 and again in December 2008. All3,509 freshmen were eligible to participate. Initial survey response rate was 29%; in December, 40% of initial respondents completed both surveys (n = 355). A subset of respondents (n = 65) had height, weight, and body composition measured to compare to self-reported data. Mean BMI change was a gain of 0.23 units, but those who gained BMI units (“Gainers”) gained an average of 1.00 BMI units while BMI “Losers” lost an average of 0.95 BMI units. The overall sample increased alcohol intake and decreased physical activity over the semester. Increased stress was associated with both BMI gain and loss. Those who were underweight or normal weight lost the most, while those who were overweight or obese gained the most. There was a corresponding increase in underweight and overweight/obese students.