141st APHA Annual Meeting

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Association of overweight status and active travel among college students

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:30 PM - 2:50 PM

Melissa Bopp, PhD , Dept. of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Timothy K Behrens, Ph.D, , Department of Health Sciences, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO
Many health behaviors are established during the life-transition time of college. Thus, college students may be effective targets for active travel (AT) interventions, a potentially fruitful method of increasing physical activity that has been associated with various health benefits. This study sought to examine differences in college students' AT by weight status. Methods: Students at a large northeastern US campus were recruited to complete an online survey that queried self-reported demographics, height/weight status, frequency and mode of travel to and around campus, and environmental influences for travel choices. Participants were dichotomized into healthy weight (<25kg/m2, n=552, 72.3%) and overweight (≥25kg/m2, n=211, 27.7%) categories. Descriptive and inferential analyses were utilized to examine relationships and differences between weight categories. Results: Participants (n=763; age: 20.99 3.43 years) were primarily white (85.3%) and female (62.7%). Healthy weight students were more likely to report AT to campus (p=0.02) and AT as their primary mode of travel on campus (p=0.002) compared with overweight students. Overweight students were less likely to have bike rack access at their residence (p=0.03) and were more likely to own a car (p<0.001), use campus parking permits (p=0.02), and live further from campus (p<0.001) than healthy weight students. Living with someone who engaged in AT was positively associated with AT for overweight students (p<0.001). Discussion: These findings provide insight on how weight status may be associated with environmental and community influences for AT. Future studies examining AT among college students should consider the causal relationship between weight status and AT.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how weight status is related student's active travel choices

Keywords: College Students, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the study, analyzed the data and wrote the abstract. I have published several peer-reviewed articles on active commuting.
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.