Poster Topical Area: Nutritional Epidemiology
Location: Hall D
Poster Board Number: 814
Objective: To examine the health and lifestyle characteristics of vegetarian college students in comparison to their nonvegetarian peers, and explore the environmental conditions associated with adherence to vegetarian and nonvegetarian diets.
Methods: Data were obtained from a baseline survey completed in the fall of 2016 as part of the Get Fruved study. Vegetarians and nonvegetarians were compared based on demographic variables, Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, waist circumference, and scores on the eating attitudes (EAT-26), physical activity (IPAQ), stress (PSS-14), sleep quality (PSQI), fruit/vegetable consumption (NCI FVS), fat consumption (NCI Fat), and campus environment perceptions (CEPS) scales.
Results: Of the total sample of 1155 students, 1118 students (96.8%) from eight regionally dispersed US universities answered the vegetarian screening question and were included in the subsequent analysis. The prevalence of vegetarianism was 6.2%. Vegetarians had higher odds of being female (OR=2.62; 95% CI 1.35-5.08; p=0.003) but were no more likely to have low affluence. Vegetarians had significantly lower mean BMI (23.1 vs 24.5, p<0.01), systolic blood pressure (104.2 mmHg vs 109.5 mmHg, p<0.01), waist circumference (75.6 cm vs 79.5 cm, p<0.01), and consumed fewer calories from fat (29.0% vs 29.6%, p<0.01) scores. Vegetarians also had higher fruit/vegetable consumption (3.6 cup equivalents vs 2.4 cup equivalents, p<0.01) and perceived stress scores (27.0 vs 25.1, p=0.03). No significant differences were observed in diastolic blood pressure (p=0.08), physical activity (p = 0.26), sleep quality (p=0.69), disordered eating behaviors (p=0.09), or any of the CEPS subscale scores.
Conclusion: The observed differences between vegetarian and nonvegetarian students in measures of physical health do not appear to be related to differences in lifestyle or campus environment. These results may be of use when developing interventions to improve college students' health and wellbeing, especially in light of the increased prevalence of diet-related diseases in this population.
West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia