Differences in Health Behaviors of Overweight or Obese College Students Compared to Healthy Weight Students

M. Rachel Harrington, Melinda J. Ickes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity continues to be an epidemic in college students, yet research is warranted to determine whether obesity increases the likelihood of risky health behaviors in this population. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between body mass index (BMI) and health behaviors in college students. Methods: A sample of 758 college students who completed an online health behavior survey were categorized based on their BMI. Chi-square analysis was used to examine the association between health behaviors and BMI. Summative health risk scores were compared using independent samples t test. Results: With the exception of sexual practices, there were few differences in reported health behaviors between BMI classification; however, a statistical significance (P = .024) was found between BMI groups on the Health Risk subscale. Discussion: The results of this study revealed little differences between BMI and health behaviors in college students and reinforced previous findings that college students, in general, do not seem to be concerned with meeting recommendations for improved health. Translation to Health Education Practice: The findings support the need for cost-effective, comprehensive programming aimed at improving health behaviors in all college students, not just a particular subgroup.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 SHAPE America.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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