Mal J Nutr 21(3): 285 - 297, 2015

Determinants of Body Weight Status of University Students: Exploratory Evidence from Universiti Sains Malaysia
Low HJ,1 Tan AKG,2" & Kassim 51

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Overweight and obesity are major health concerns among young adults in Malaysia. This study investigates the association between socio¬demographic and health-lifestyle factors and body weight status among university students.
Methods: Data were obtained from random questionnaire-based face-to-face interviews of 414 full-time students from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Ordered probit analysis was conducted and marginal effects of socio-demographic and health-lifestyle variables on body-mass-index (BMA calculated.
Results: Among socio-demographic variables, ethnicity (Chinese), gender (male), monthly household income bracket, and family history of obesity were significant factors in determining body weight status. As a health-lifestyle factor, self-reported main meal portion size was significantly associated with BMI.
Conclusion: It is concluded that health policy makers in institutions of higher learning should take appropriate intervention measures by focusing on socio-demographic and health-lifestyle related factors in addressing issues of overweight and obesity among university students. Policy recommendations include implementing specific nutrition awareness programmes among male students and promoting health education that elevated body weight issues could be associated with familial traits. Efforts to ensure affordable and accessible nutrient-rich foods in campus cafeterias may also be beneficial to the nutritional health of university students.

Keywords: Body weight, obesity, ordered probability model, overweight, university students

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