Printer Friendly

A comparison of physical activity engagement and enjoyment in female college students with and without a history of weight-related teasing.

Weight-related teasing is associated with reduced levels of physical activity in youth, but the importance of weight teasing experiences to the engagement of female college students in physical activity is yet to be determined. Thus, this study examined differences in physical activity engagement and physical activity enjoyment in female college students with and without a prior history of weight-related teasing. Ninety female college students participated in the study. Participants wore accelerometers for seven days, and completed the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale and the Perception of Teasing Scale. A body impedance scale assessed body composition. Independent t-tests compared participants with and without a prior history of weight-related teasing for the dependent variables body fat percentage, physical activity enjoyment, and physical activity engagement. Approximately 37% of the participants reported prior weight-related teasing experiences. Female college students with a previous experience of weight-related teasing accumulated significantly fewer minutes of vigorous physical activity (p = .026), showed lower levels of physical activity enjoyment (p = .005), and had a higher percentage of body fat (p = .001) than their counterparts without a history of weight-related teasing. Weight-related teasing was a determinant factor for the participation of female college students in physical activity.

Key words: weight stigma, weight criticism, overweight, young adults

Weight-related teasing refers to mocking the physical appearance of another person via negative weight-talk, name calling and social rejection (Goldfield et al., 2010; Keltner, Capps, Kring, Young, & Heerey, 2001; Mc-Cormack et al., 2011). Weight-related teasing is prevalent during childhood and adolescence, and it is a good predictor of continued negative weight comments in early adulthood (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, & Story, 2003). In addition, weight-related teasing experiences are related to body dissatisfaction (Lampard, MacLehose, Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, & Davison, 2014), eating disorders (Quick, McWilliams, & Byrd-Bredbenner, 2013), depression (Greenleaf, Petrie, & Martin, 2014), and loneliness (Storch et al., 2007).

Overweight individuals and females are the most common recipients of negative weight comments from significant others (Eisenberg et al., 2003). Weight-related teasing also occurs in physical activity environments, but the breath of current research focuses exclusively on children and adolescents (Faith, Leone, Ayers, Heo, & Pietrobelli, 2002). In addition, previous studies examining the relationship between weight-related teasing and physical activity measured physical activity engagement using questionnaires (Faith et al., 2002; Jensen, Cushing, & Elledge, 2014; Jensen & Steele, 2009), but the ability of questionnaires to accurately assess physical activity habits is questionable (Warren et al., 2010). Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare the levels of physical activity of female college students reporting a minimum of one episode of weight-related teasing to those with no history of weight related teasing. Engagement in physical activity was measured objectively using accelerometry.

In addition to weight-related teasing, physical activity enjoyment is an important predictor of physical activity engagement (Dishman et al., 2005). Previous positive physical activity experiences (Raedeke, Focht, & Scales, 2007), appropriate training stimulus (Ekkekakis, Parfitt, & Petruzzello, 2011), high quality social interactions (Winninger, 2002), and the physical environment (Prochaska, Sallis, Slymen, & McKenzie, 2003) are associated with higher levels of physical activity enjoyment. Weight-related teasing is associated with lower levels of physical activity enjoyment in adolescents (Faith et al., 2002), but this association has not been examined in young adults. Thus, we also investigated whether the levels of physical activity enjoyment of female college students would differ depending on the history of weight-related teasing experiences.

Methods

Participants

Participants were 128 female college students attending a Midwestern university between spring, 2013 and fall, 2015. We recruited participants during academic classes or in dining centers and lobbies of academic buildings. Six participants withdrew within the first three days of the investigation. We excluded data from thirty-two participants due to not meeting the minimum of 10 hours of accelerometer wear time per day for at least three weekdays and one weekend day. Seventy percent of the total study participants completed the study. The sample used for data analysis consisted of 90 participants ([M.sub.age] = 21.38 years, SD = 2.484). We obtained Institutional Review Board approval and signed informed consents prior to data collection.

Instrumentation

Anthropometric Measurements. A freestanding stadiometer (Weigh and Measure, LLC) measured height, and a bioelectrical impedance scale (TANITA Corporation TB-F300A) measured body fat percentage. Body fat percentage was used to classify individuals into groups (ultra-lean, lean, moderately lean, excess fat, and high-risk fat) based on previously established cut-points (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2015).

Perception of Teasing Scale (POTS). POTS measures the frequency of weight teasing experiences (Thompson, Cattarin, Foller, & Fisher, 1995). It is a Likert like survey with six items (i.e. 'People made fun of you because you were heavy') ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (very often). The total points range between 6 and 30. In the current study, POTS was used to split the sample into participants who had never experienced weight teasing (POTS score = 6) from those who experienced at least one episode of weight related teasing (POTS score > 6). POTS has adequate validity evidence for assessing female college students (Thompson et al., 1995). The Cronbach's alpha of POTS was equal to .78 in the current study.

Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES). PACES is a Likert like survey measuring enjoyment of physical activity. There are sixteen items in the scale, and they attempt to differentiate between pleasant and unpleasant conditions experienced during exercise (i.e. 'When I am active I enjoy it'). The Likert scale ranges from 1 (disagree a lot) to 5 (agree a lot). Negatively worded questions on PACES were reversed and scores were summed for evaluation. Total possible points range between 16 and 80. PACES has adequate validity (Kendzierski & DeCarlo, 1991). The Cronbach's alpha of PACES was .92 in the current study.

Physical Activity Habits. Participants wore a GT3X+ accelerometer (Actigraph) for seven days to measure physical activity habits. Only participants who wore the accelerometers for at least 3 weekdays and one weekend day were included in the analysis. A valid day consisted of wearing the accelerometer for a minimum of 10 hours. During a valid hour, the zero activity counts were less than 30 consecutive minutes (Fredson, Melanson, & Sirard, 1998). The Actilife 6.5.1 (Actigraph) software extracted data from accelerometers. Epoch time was set at 60 seconds. Activity counts were transformed to daily minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity using Freedson intensity estimates (Fredson et al., 1998).

Procedures

Upon signing the consent form, participants completed POTS and PACES. Then, we provided participants with a GT3X+ Actigraph accelerometer along with an oral and written explanation of the appropriate wearing and handling of the device. We asked participants to wear the accelerometers around their waist on the dominant side of the body during a seven-day period except while sleeping. Between the third and fifth day of participation, we sent a reminder email to participants indicating the wear time requirements. We measured standing height and weight to the nearest centimeter and kilogram respectively. We assessed body composition based on body fat percentage. Participants wore light clothes without shoes and socks during height and weight measurements.

Data Analysis

Means and standard deviations described participants' demographic and anthropometric characteristics. We used separate independent t-tests to compare female college students with and without a prior history of weight-related teasing in minutes spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity, body fat percentage, and physical activity enjoyment. We used the Levene's test to assess the assumption of equal population variances between the experimental groups. When equal variances were not assumed, the degrees of freedom were corrected using the Welch-Satterthwaite method. We computed effect sizes based on the Cohen's d procedure using means and standard deviations. We performed computations using IBM SPSS Statistics 20.

Results

Description of Participants

The majority of participants were Caucasian. The participants averaged 29.43% body fat (SD = 7.18). Participants engaged in an average of 36.77 minutes of moderate (SD = 15.32) and 6.15 minutes of vigorous (SD = 10.48) daily physical activity. A substantial proportion of female college students reported a history of weight related teasing experiences (36.7%), and among them the average score for the POTS questionnaire was 9.33 (SD = 2.31). A detailed description of participant characteristics is available in Table 1.

Experimental comparisons

The comparison between female college students with and without a history of weight-related teasing resulted in non-significant differences in engagement in moderate ([t.sub.88] = .51, p = .613) and in overall levels of physical activity ([t.sub.88] = -.47, p = .638; Table 2). Female college students with a previous experience of weight-related teasing engaged in significantly fewer minutes of vigorous physical activity ([t.sub.77.6] = -2.27, p = .026, Cohen's d = -.44), showed lower levels of physical activity enjoyment ([t.sub.88] = -2.89, p = .005, Cohen's d = -.62), and had a higher percentage of body fat ([t.sub.50.1] = 3.70, p = .001, Cohen's d = .85; Table 2) than their female college counterparts who were never previously teased about their weight.

Discussion

Thirty-seven percent of the female college students reported experiencing weight-related teasing. The prevalence of weight-related teasing was comparable to previous rates of weight-related teasing in adolescent girls (Eisenberg et al., 2003; Goldfield et al., 2010; Lampard et al., 2014; McCormack et al., 2011). Adolescent girls affected by weight-related teasing are at a higher risk for negative psychological outcomes such as loneliness, depression, and eating disorders (Greenleaf et al., 2014; Hayden-Wade et al., 2005; Lampard et al., 2014). The high prevalence of female college students reporting previous weight-related teasing experiences warrants attention.

Participants with a history of weight-related teasing accumulated significantly fewer minutes of vigorous physical activity and equivalent moderate and overall levels of physical activity compared to participants not previously teased about their weight. Previous studies reported that adolescents who were more frequently teased about being heavy were less physically active (Faith et al., 2002; Jensen et al., 2014) and more aerobically unfit (Greenleaf et al., 2014). Jensen and Steele (2009) specifically reported a decline in vigorous physical activity among girls with high levels of weight teasing and body dissatisfaction. Physical activity of high intensity may be particularly beneficial to the health of young women since it is more strongly associated with a reduction in the risks of type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease than physical activity of lighter intensity (Hu et al., 1999; Sesso, Paffenbarger, & Lee, 2000). It is possible that female college students with a history of weight-related teasing feel less comfortable participating in physical activity of high intensity because vigorous activities such as sports and aerobic classes tend to be organized and performed in group settings (Ainsworth et al., 2011). Weight-related teasing should be added to the list of factors that influence the participation of college students in physical activity such as fitness center accessibility (Miller, Noland, Rayens, & Staten, 2008), time constraints (Manthei & Gilmore, 2005), and social support (Sylvia-Bobiak & Caldwell, 2006; Wallace, Buckworth, Kirby, & Sherman, 2000).

In this study, college students with a previous history of weight-related teasing also reported less enjoyment of physical activity. An indirect association between weight-related teasing and physical activity enjoyment was previously demonstrated in adolescents (Faith et al., 2002). This association is of consequence because enjoyment is a commonly cited reason for participation in physical activity (Salmon, Owen, Crawford, Bauman, & Sallis, 2003). Furthermore, individuals reporting higher levels of physical activity enjoyment tend to be more engaged in physical activity (Allender, Cowburn, & Foster, 2006). Thus, it is important to design programs that young women find enjoyable, especially those with a higher body fat percentage. Individuals who are more overweight find physical activity less enjoyable and report less desire to participate in future physical activity (Deforche, De Bourdeaudhuij, & Tanghe, 2006). Programs should specifically target overweight young women. Promoting the benefits of physical activity and engaging female college students in the process of making exercise decisions may improve physical activity enjoyment.

This study is not without limitations. Few participants were in the excessive fat categories, but overweight individuals are teased about their physical appearance more frequently (Goldfield et al., 2010). The inclusion of more participants in the excessive fat categories could have exacerbated the results even further. This study used a bioelectrical impedance scale to identify body fat percentage, but factors such as hydration levels and fat distribution in the body may affect the accuracy of the procedure (Dehghan & Merchant, 2008). On the other hand, a strength of this study was the use of accerelometry, a high-quality objective measure of physical activity behavior, instead of the self-reported measures of physical activity used in previous investigations (Faith et al., 2002; Jensen et al., 2014; Jensen & Steele, 2009). Finally, this was the first study to examine the effects of weight-related teasing on female college students.

Conclusion

A substantial proportion of the participating female college students reported prior weight-related teasing experiences. Weight-related teasing was a barrier to the participation of female college students in vigorous physical activity. Female college students with a prior history of weight-related teasing also reported less enjoyment of physical activity. In order to reduce the potentially negative effects of weight-related teasing, it is critical to educate college students about weight-related teasing. Weight-related teasing is an important factor to consider when planning programs related to the physical activity of female college students.

PIROSKA BOROS

FABIO FONTANA

MICK MACK

University of Northern Iowa
Table 1 Participant Characteristics

Characteristic          Percentage (%)

Race
Caucasian               91.1
Asian                    5.6
African American         2.2
Hispanic                 1.1
Other                    0
Bod Fat Classification
Ultra lean               5.6
Lean                    11.2
Moderately lean         47.2
Excessive fat           29.2
Risky (high body fat)    6.7

Physical Activity          Minutes/Day
Levels
                          M          SD

Moderate                36.77  [+ or -]15.32
Vigorous                 6.15  [+ or -]10.48
Moderate + Vigorous     42.75  [+ or -]21.12

Table 2 Comparison between the Groups of Female CoUege Students With
(N = 33) and Without a History of Weight Teasing (N = S7)

                         Weight teasing   No Weight
                                          teasing
                         M (SD)           M (SD)

Physical
Activity
Moderate                 265 (120.37)     253.04 (99.70)
physical
activity
Vigorous                  24.52 (32.04)    53.74 (87.52)
physical
activity (*)
Overall                  289.61 (130.71)  304.93 (157.81)
physical
activity
Body fat % (**)           33.15 (8.11)     27.25 (5.58)
Physical
activity enjoyment (**)   66.03 (7.76)     70.72 (7.23)

(*) p<.05
(**) p<.01
Note. Physical activity scores represent minutes of weekly physical
activity.
COPYRIGHT 2017 Project Innovation (Alabama)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Boros, Piroska; Fontana, Fabio; Mack, Mick
Publication:College Student Journal
Article Type:Report
Date:Sep 22, 2017
Words:2363
Previous Article:Virtue and moral development, changing ethics instruction in business school education.
Next Article:YOU ARE ALIVE RIGHT NOW: AN EXPERIMENTAL EXPLORATION OF THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN EXISTENTIAL SALIENCE, MENTAL HEALTH, AND DEATH ANXIETY.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters