Objective: The goal of this study was to identify factors that college students perceived as contributing to healthy and unhealthy eating patterns, physical activity (PA) levels, and weight change. Participants: Forty-nine 18- to 22-year-old students at a midwestern university participated. Methods: Six focus groups (3 with each gender) were conducted, and data were analyzed using qualitative software to code and categorize themes and then reduce these to clusters according to commonly practiced methods of qualitative analysis. Results: Eating and PA behaviors appear to be determined by a complex interplay between motivations and self-regulatory skills as well as the unique social and physical environment comprising college life. Moreover, there appear to be gender differences in how these determinants impact behavior. Conclusions: Future research should examine these interactions in the college context in order to further our understanding of potential interventions or environmental modifications that support healthy eating and PA.
- physical activity
- weight gain