Online Program

Development and testing of the university health index for nutrition and physical activity

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kathryn W. Hosig, PhD, MPH, RD, Department of Population Health Sciences, Public Health Program, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Stephanie Goodwin, PhD, MPH, RD, National Institutes of Health
Elena Serrano, PhD, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Kerry Redican, PhD, MPH, MSPH, CHES, Department of Population Health Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Background and significance: The university health environment may influence development and maintenance of health habits during the transition from older adolescence to young adulthood. Purpose: To develop and validate a tool to assess the university health environment. Methods: The University Health Index (UHI) included four modules: 1) Health Education; 2) Recreational Sports and Fitness; 3) Health Promotion; and 4) Built Environment. A cross-sectional design was used to analyze associations between health behaviors and outcomes related to diet, physical activity (PA), and weight from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) for 9,460 students at thirteen universities. Data were analyzed via ordinary linear regression adjusting for clustering effects, with statistical significance set at p < 0.05. Results: Vigorous PA was positively associated with Module 3 score (p = 0.046). Strength was positively associated with having adequate indoor recreational sport/fitness space (p = 0.025). Higher fruit/vegetable intake was positively associated with recreational indoor sport instruction (p = 0.024), active transportation infrastructure (p = 0.047), and recreational sport/fitness facility space (p = 0.034). BMI was negatively associated with recreational indoor sport instruction (p =0.027) and a well-established walk/run/bike path (p = 0.023), and was positively associated with recreational sport special events (p = 0.004) and health promotion student reach (p = 0.010). Conclusion: Tools to assess characteristics of the university health environment need further development using readily available and defined measures. A prospective design assessing initial health behaviors and change over four years associated with university characteristics would strengthen validation of these tools.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify at least two university characteristics that may influence nutrition and physical activity habits of students. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of using National College Health Association survey data to assess associations between the university health environment and student health behaviors.

Keyword(s): College Students, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted, presented and published studies related to college student nutrition and physical activity habits. I was the faculty advisor for the research presented in this abstract.
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.

Back to: 4376.0: Obesity Prevention Programs