Publication Date

Fall 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging


Marjorie R. Freedman

Subject Areas

Education, Multilingual.; Health Sciences, Nutrition.; Health Sciences, Public Health.


This observational research examines body mass index (BMI) changes in multicultural freshmen attending a large public urban university. It explores factors associated with BMI increase and investigates behavior changes and perceptions related to diet and body weight. The study utilizes an online survey distributed in November 2007 and again in April 2008. All 3,260 freshmen were eligible to participate. Initial response rate was 23%; 44% of initial respondents completed both surveys (N = 337). Results revealed a significant increase in BMI for on-campus residents, Caucasians, and males (P < 0.05). Decreased vegetable intake was associated with a BMI increase of less than one (P < 0.05). Fruits and vegetables were perceived by most as healthful; their high cost, and limited variety and availability on campus were deemed potential barriers to intake. Freshman weight gain may be a function of gender, residence, and ethnicity, and deserves further examination.