245362 Need for Cultivating a Weight-Safe Environment on the College Campus: Why We Need a HAES approach

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:30 PM

Jacqueline Johnson, MPH, (will be EdD May 2011) , Department of Exercise Science, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
BACKGROUND: Weight has been a concern for college students, as well as colleges, since the early days of higher education. The emphasis on weight has been increasing over the past few decades and especially so today with the emphasis on obesity. College has the purpose of preparing students for futures in careers and life as adults, but the emphasis on weight may prevent some from attending college, as well as impact retention, and limit individual development and future success.

METHODS: A pilot study was conducted during 2009 to develop interview questions, recruitment methods, inclusion criteria, and data analysis protocol. Qualitative interviews were conducted among a population of college students at two major mid-atlantic universities.

RESULTS: Major recruitment challenges were encountered due to the nature of the topic, as the researcher expected. The participants were predominantly female, white, and heterosexual. All students expressed concerns about weight, being most intense during freshman year and then declining through each progressive academic year. Students also expressed anxiety over the emphasis of weight on the college campus.

CONCLUSIONS: The results may indicate the emphasis on weight in the college environment is contributing to some student's delay in development, negatively impacting learning experiences, as well as social experiences on the college campus. Using the data from the interviews and applying to the HAES model, college campuses might consider adopting the HAES approach to reduce the anxieties about weight college students experience in the college environment

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the current weight concerns among college students in the college environment that are negatively impacting development and adoption of health behaviors. Explain the applicability of the HAES approach to promote a weight-safe environment on the college campus, facilitating the adoption of health behaviors for all students.

Keywords: Weight Management, Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am currently completing my doctoral dissertation, exploring the psychosocial aspects of weight among college students in the college environment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.