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College Students' Health Behavior Clusters: Differences by Sex

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Objective: The study purpose was to identify clusters of weight-related behaviors by sex in a college student populations. Methods: We conducted secondary data analysis from online surveys and physical assessments collected in Project Young Adults Eating and Active for Health (YEAH) with a convenience sample of students on 13 college campuses in the United States. We performed 2-step cluster analysis by sex to identify subgroups with homogeneous characteristics and behaviors. We used 8 derivation variables: healthy eating; eating restraints; external cues; stress; fruit/vegetable intake; calories from fat; calories from sugar-sweetened beverages; and physical activity. Contribution of derivation variables to clusters was analyzed with a MANOVA test. Results: Data from 1594 students were included. Cluster analysis revealed 2-clusters labeled "Healthful Behavior" and "At-risk" for males and females with an additional "Laid Back" cluster for males. "At-risk" clusters had the highest BMI, waist circumference, elevated health risk, and stress and least healthy dietary intake and physical activity. The "Laid Back" cluster had normal weights and the lowest restrained eating, external cues sensitivity, and stress. Conclusion: Identified differences in characteristics and attitudes towards weight-related behaviors between males and females can be used to tailor weight management programs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Nutrition, Knoxville, TN, USA., Email: [email protected] 2: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Business Analytics and Statistics, Knoxville, TN, USA 3: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Nutrition, Knoxville, TN, USA 4: University of Florida, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Science, Gainesville, FL, USA 5: West Virginia University, Department of Human Nutrition and Foods, Morgantown, WV, USA 6: University of New Hampshire, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, Durham, NH, USA 7: United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Division of Nutrition, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition, Washington, DC, USA 8: Kansas State University, Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health, Manhattan, KS, USA 9: Syracuse University, Department of Nutrition Science and Dietetics, Syracuse, NY, USA 10: University of Rhode Island, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Kingston, RI, USA 11: Auburn University, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management, Auburn, AL, USA 12: University of Maine, School of Food and Agriculture, Orono, ME, USA 13: Michigan State University, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, East Lansing, MI, USA 14: Rutgers University, Department of Nutritional Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, USA 15: South Dakota State University, Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences, Brookings, SD, USA

Publication date: 2017-07-01

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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