GCU researchers talk quarantine, college weight gain

November 10, 2020 / by / 0 Comment
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GCU News Bureau

Dr. Zachary Zeigler (left) and his students spoke about their projects, one focusing on behaviors leading to weight gain during the pandemic, and another on how college weight gain impacts central blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

Grand Canyon University associate professor Dr. Zachary Zeigler and several of his student researchers helmed two poster presentations recently at the virtual Southwest American College of Sports Medicine Conference.

One group’s talk was titled “Self-quarantine from COVID-19 and the Implications of Altered Eating Behaviors on Weight Gain.”

Authors are Zeigler along with Jacqueline Guillen and Briana Lopez, both exercise science majors with an emphasis in sports performance, and Mykah McMillian, whose degree emphasized in pre-physical therapy.

The study looked at the impact of the quarantine on eating behaviors and weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic. The GCU team sent an announcement via Facebook to 1,200 possible participants. One hundred fifty-seven participants (40 male and 117 female) completed a Survey Monkey questionnaire with questions related to eating behaviors linked to weight gain.

Here are some of the responses:

  • Roughly 67% reported they either lost weight or remained weight stable;
  • 33% reported gaining weight;
  • Roughly 53% reported increased eating with friends and family;
  • 57% reported increased eating in response to sight and smell;
  • 69% reported increased eating because they craved certain foods;
  • 53% reported increased eating when depressed or upset;
  • 57% reported increased eating when stressed;
  • 66% reported increased eating when bored;
  • 54% reported increased snacking after dinner.

The researchers found that only snacking after dinner and eating too much food independently increased the odds of gaining weight during the pandemic. They concluded that care should be taken to curb overeating and evening snacking to maintain body weight during self-quarantine.

The second group’s talk was on the “Impact of College Weight Gain on Central Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness.”

Authors of this research project are Zeigler, along with Joshua Miner, Riley Morton and Malia Nowlen, who earned biology degrees in pre-physical therapy, and Irma Maldonado and Kyli Alvarez, both exercise science majors studying sports performance.

College is a critical point when the risk for weight gain is higher than any other period. The purpose of this project was to determine the role college weight gain plays on central blood pressure.

The team recruited healthy adults ages 18-30 from the GCU campus who were asked to come to the lab to complete various health assessments. Fifty-five males and 65 females completed the study. The average college weight gain was 13.3 to 16.3 pounds.

What the team found was that, in addition to body mass index, age and gender, college weight gain is an independent predictor of brachial and central blood pressure.

The Southwest Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine includes six states: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

More than 500 professionals specializing in health, fitness, kinesiology and sports medicine, along with college and club teams, attend the chapter’s annual meeting.

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Related content:

GCU Today: GCU researchers – Don’t skip that day of exercise

GCU Today: GCU flexing a new health initiative


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