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Health Educ Behav. 2014 Dec;41(6):663-72. doi: 10.1177/1090198114537062. Epub 2014 Jul 2.

A latent class analysis of weight-related health behaviors among 2- and 4-year college students and associated risk of obesity.

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University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA.
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


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.


2-and 4-year college students; audience segmentation; co-occurrence of health behaviors; latent class analysis with a distal outcome; obesity; young adults

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