Prevalence and correlates of being overweight or obese in college

Brian L. Odlaug, Katherine Lust, Cathrine L. Wimmelmann, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Erik L. Mortensen, Katherine Derbyshire, Gary Christenson, Jon E. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Recent statistics indicate that over one-third of college students are currently overweight or obese, however, the impact of weight in this population from academic and psychiatric perspectives is not fully understood. This study sought to examine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in college students and its association with stress, mental health disorders and academic achievement. A total of 1765 students completed the College Student Computer User Survey (CSCUS) online at a large Midwestern United States University. Responders were classified by weight as normal, overweight or obese based on body mass index. Data were stratified by sex, with cross-tabulation and t-tests, one-way analysis of variance, and logistic regression for analysis. A total of 492 (27.9%) students were overweight (20.2%; range 25.01-29.98) or obese (7.7%; range 30.04-71.26). Overweight and obesity were associated with significantly lower overall academic achievement, more depressive symptoms, and using diet pills for weight loss. Obese males had significantly higher rates of lifetime trichotillomania while overweight and obese females reported higher rates of panic disorder. Higher educational institutions should be aware of the significant burden associated with overweight and obesity in students, and of the differing demographic and clinical associations between overweight or obesity in men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 30 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Mr. Odlaug has received a research grant from the Trichotillomania Learning Center , consults for H. Lundbeck A/S, and receives royalties from Oxford University Press. Dr. Grant has research grants from National Center for Responsible Gaming , Forest Pharmaceuticals and Roche Pharmaceuticals . He receives yearly compensation from Springer Publishing for acting as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Gambling Studies and has received royalties from Oxford University Press, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., Norton Press, and McGraw Hill. Dr. Chamberlain consults for Cambridge Cognition. Dr. Lust, Ms. Wimmelmann, Dr. Mortensen, Ms. Derbyshire, and Dr. Christenson report no financial relationships with commercial interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Academic
  • College
  • Education
  • Health
  • Impulse
  • Obesity
  • Weight


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