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Risks of Obesity among the College Students

Introduction

Obesity is a growing health concern as it has short as well as long term effects on the health of the individuals. Obesity among young college students is specially a rapidly growing health risk leaving students on the risk of poor health (Austin, et al. in 2013). Obesity can be caused due a number of reasons like consuming food with high calories, drinking a lot of processed beverages, lack of physical activity, urban lifestyle, irregular sleep patterns and use of medications. Various factors that relate to modern lifestyle such as increasing screen time spent among students has also been regarded as a reason behind obesity (Leu, et al. 2017). Furthermore, it has also been found that the risk of being obese is higher among those living in urban areas than those living in rural areas (Abshire, et al. 2017). Despite the presence of many other factors causing obesity in the college students, careless consumption of processed and high-calorie food remains the major one. It is proposed to conduct a study to identify the relationship between dietary and physical activity habits and risk of obesity for the college students. The proposed research will particularly focus on answering the research question that how eating habits affect the risk of obesity among the College students.

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Literature review

Obesity is rapidly increasing among college students in USA which is ascribed with the intake of high-caloric food. Many young students claim that the unavailability of good quality of primary grains leads them to consume unhealthy and fast food. However, a study conducted by Biediger-Friedman et al. (2016) that there is no such type of relationship. On the contrary, it was found that the purchasing patterns were higher in fast food group and lower in primary grains among college students. These findings showed that Even when the healthy food options are available, the students often prefer to purchase junk or fast food.

Obesity is a disease that leaves impacts on the health of people in all parts of the world, however, the socio-economic status and age have been found to be strongly linked with the risk of obesity. Obesity also have a relation with the mental states of the young people. The people who are stressed and economic problems are also likely to face obesity (Abshire et al., 2017). People with short and disturbed sleep have also been found to be at a higher risk of obesity (Sa, 2020). Some students also have food insecurities where they are always worried either about eating a lot or eating too less. Thus, the food insecurities also lead to obesity among young students (Bruening et al., 2016). Therefore, literature is evident that lifestyle and socio-economic status has a strong association with the obesity.

Due to the increasing risk of obesity among the populations around the world, there has been significant amount of research conducted to identity the eating behaviors which could lead to a healthier lifestyle and could reduce the risk of obesity. While the amount of research-based evidence supporting any health benefits of a gluten-free diet in a healthy individual is limited, the number of healthy people claiming to follow a gluten-free diet in some capacity continues to rise. (Kim, Churrango, Patel, Kothari, & Ahlawat, 2016; Newberry, McKnight, Sarav, & Pickett-Blakely, 2017). It has been found by the previous authors that the majority of consumers who follow a gluten-free diet, choose these products because they believe that the gluten-free version is healthier than the original product containing gluten (Gaesser & Angadi, 2012; Lis, Stellingwerff, Shing, Ahuja, & Fell, 2015). This generalized belief has given fuel to food companies and marketers to portray the more expensive, gluten-free options as being healthy, including foods that never contained gluten to begin with. In addition to these tailored marketing strategies, celebrity endorsements are more recently encouraging a gluten-free diet for weight loss. (Gaesser & Angadi, 2012).

Limited research is not the only factor being overlooked in healthy populations following a gluten-free diet, as it seems that gluten-free products are less available and more expensive than original products containing gluten (Kulai & Rashid, 2014; Lee, Ng, Zivin, & Green, 2007)

For an individual with Celiac Disease, the burdens of researching products and finding stores where these products can be purchased at an inflated cost is an undesirable task. Therefore, it evokes curiosity as to why many individuals without a gluten sensitivities or allergies are taking on this challenge as well. Recent research found that gluten-free products were roughly 240% more expensive than similar products containing gluten (Lee et al., 2007). The increased cost may be a result of increased processing methods and product demand, since there is often limited availability of these products in stores (Lee et al., 2007). It is to be noted that many students cannot afford to spend high amount on their food; therefore, did this capacity among the youth and College going students has been increasing.

Proposed Study Design

As seen from the background literature review conducted for this research, obesity has become a serious risk for the College going students. the problem is crucial because obesity does not create only present health risks for the College students, but also increases their chances fall involving in obesity related diseases in their later life. For example, in case, the obesity among College students is not controlled, there is a high risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and even certain types of cancers.

Based on the above facts, it is proposed to conduct a study to identify the impact of dietary and physical activity behaviors on the obesity risks for the College students. The participants for the study were recruited on voluntarily basis and quantitative research method was used. Structured survey method was to collect responses from the participants as it provided a quick insight into the dietary and physical activity habits of the students.

Selection of Study Participants

The inclusion and exclusion criteria for the participants of this study is explained as follows: The BMI of the prospective participants shall be measured; in case the BMI is found to be satisfactory, the participants shall be excluded. It is also planned to include an intervention in this study. based on the time and resources available for this study, the intervention plan will be designed to include a dietary and physical activity routine for the study participants. for the intervention-based study, the participants survey shall be conducted pre and post intervention. Therefore, the exclusion criteria will also take care of these students who may not want to join the intervention; in this regard if some students do not want to participate in the dietary or physical activity routine, they shall be excluded.

Sampling Method for Recruiting Participants

Randomized Control trial method will be used to select the study participants, which shall comprise of 300 students. This selection method will help the researcher to avoid any bias in the findings. While selecting the participants, it will ne ensured that the demographic features such as age, race and average build of the participants is same. It is important to control the demographic attributes of the participants in order to have an insight about the influence of physical activity and dietary routine on the risk of obesity. Otherwise, the other demographic factors might affect the risk of obesity and the actual impact of independent variables may not be seen. The participants will be divided into two groups: control and experimental. The control group will undergo the dietary and physical activity routine for the period of study, whereas, the control group will just continue with their routine eating and physical activity habits.

Planned Intervention

Most likely, the intervention period was planned to be 3-4 months; this will allow the researcher to complete this experimental study during our teaching semester. As the major focus of this study is on identifying the impact of dietary control and physical activity level over the obesity risk, this Hello would govern the selection of independent and dependent variables of the study. In order to find out the impact of intervention, the survey will be conducted before and after intervention, as previously mentioned. In line with the focus of the proposed study, the independent variable chosen is BMI of the participants which shall be recorded before and after the intervention. On the other hand, the independent variables of the study would include the number of calories intake, and number of hours spent each week on the physical activity. The choice of independent and dependent variables has been made in accordance with the studies which have been conducted in the past to study the role of diet and exercise on the obesity risk.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Although large number of studies have been conducted in the past to identify the role of diet and physical activity on the risk of obesity and general health, it is not possible to generalize most of those studies. This is because these studies related to lifestyle and health care are almost always conducted in specific social and cultural settings. Since it is not possible to have similar settings in different societies or countries, therefore, it does not make sense to generalize the findings of one study to the other environment. This fact provides an insight about the major strength of the present study; this study proposed to conduct intervention program on the College students by modifying their lifestyles. This would guarantee that the findings produced by the study are not generic but are very specific to the population being studied. The second major is strength of the proposed study is its basis on the intervention, instead of just collecting theoretical responses from the participants. This election, inclusion and exclusion criteria defined for this study would also count as in a strength; the sampling is strategy which will be deployed in this study will ensure that the selection process is randomized and the chances of bias are eliminated wherever possible.

On the negative side, there are also some weaknesses associated with the present study. Firstly, it may not be possible for the researcher to convince the College students to participate in the intervention program; the students may be very busy and they may not find it convenient to find time for participating in the intervention. if this situation occurs, the researcher may need to relax the exclusion criteria. The second major weakness of this study will occur due to limited number of participants. Clearly, the number of participants which will be considered for intervention will be very limited because of the time and resource constraints. As a result, there is a considerable chance that the findings of this study cannot be replicated for any other set of participants, even if they are taken from the same population of College students.

Conclusion

The risk of obesity among the college students has been increasing worldwide. Various research studies have attempted to identify the factors that cause high obesity among the young students. This paper presented a detailed literature review to highlight some of the factors behind obesity risks based on the literature review, it has been proposed to conduct an experimental study to identify the link between dietary and physical activity habits of students and their risks for obesity. It is expected that the findings of this study will help the students to modify their lifestyles, which will subsequently reduce their obesity risks and also the risks for associated diseases. Particularly, the College students will become able to control their eating habits, which shall reduce their opacity risk.

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