A Latent Class Analysis of Weight-Related Health Behaviors Among 2- and 4-Year College Students and Associated Risk of Obesity

Abstract

Little is known about the complex patterning of weight-related health behaviors in 2- and 4-year college students. The objective
of this study was to identify and describe unique classes of weight-related health behaviors among college students. Latent
class analysis was used to identify homogenous, mutually exclusive classes of nine health behaviors that represent multiple
theoretically/clinically relevant dimensions of obesity risk among 2- versus 4-year college students using cross-sectional
statewide surveillance data (N = 17,584). Additionally, differences in class membership on selected sociodemographic characteristics were examined using
a model-based approach. Analysis was conducted separately for both college groups, and five and four classes were identified
for 2- and 4-year college students, respectively. Four classes were similar across 2- and 4-year college groups and were characterized
as “mostly healthy dietary habits, active”; “moderately high screen time, active”; “moderately healthy dietary habits, inactive”;
and “moderately high screen time, inactive.” “Moderately healthy dietary habits, high screen time” was the additional class
unique to 2-year college students. These classes differed on a number of sociodemographic characteristics, including the proportion
in each class who were classified as obese. Implications for prevention scientists and future intervention programs are considered.

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