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A Formative Evaluation of Freshman College Students’ Preferences And Practices Regarding Technology-based Weight Control: 3239 Board #304 June 3, 200 PM - 330 PM

Monroe, Courtney M.; Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle M.; Sundstrom, Beth; Larsen, Chelsea; Magradey, Karen; Wilcox, Sara FACSM; Brandt, Heather; West, Delia Smith

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 5S - p 926
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000487774.25076.36
F-37 Free Communication/Poster - Physical Activity Interventions in Youth Friday, June 3, 2016, 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM Room: Exhibit Hall A/B

1University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. 2College of Charleston, Charleston, SC.


(No relationships reported)

Men and women are vulnerable to weight gain during their freshman year of college. Technology is beginning to be examined as a tool for the delivery of behavioral weight control interventions in college students, but no studies have gauged the preferences and practices of college freshman with respect to technology and weight control to inform study design.

PURPOSE: To conduct a formative assessment of freshman college students’ use of electronic technologies, as well as their interest in and preferences related to technology-based healthy weight control programs.

METHODS: A convenience sample of incoming college freshman (37 women and 18 men, 18.3 ± 0.6 y, body mass index = 21.7 ± 3.2 kg/m2) from a public university in the Southeastern United States was recruited at the start of the fall semester via fliers distributed around campus. Participants completed an online questionnaire, which addressed their demographic characteristics, technology use, social media preferences for receiving health information, health concerns, weight control intentions, and interest in receiving various technology-based health promotion programs. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all items.

RESULTS: Most participants reported that they were trying to either maintain weight (66%) or lose weight (27%), but only 20% weighed themselves at least one time/week and most did not use a ‘wearable’ physical activity tracking device (91%) or a smartphone application to monitor their diet (89%) and physical activity (81%). Among electronic media platforms, e-mail was used by the highest proportion of participants (96.4%), followed by Snapchat (73%). E-mail was the preferred platform for receiving health information by most participants (87%), followed by Facebook (38%). Weight gain was a concern among 78% of the participants and 82% expressed interest in receiving technology-based healthy weight and physical activity promotion programs.

CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that most college freshman are interested in technology-based healthy weight programs. Opportunities exist to both introduce college freshman to technology-based tactics for self-regulation of weight and determine how to best harness electronic media tools that are widely used by this population (e.g., e-mail; Snapchat) for healthy weight promotion.

© 2016 American College of Sports Medicine