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To assess weight status and eating habits of undergraduate university students in relation to gender and examine the relationships between weight status, physical activity and eating habits.
Cross-sectional study conducted between October 2016 and May 2017.
Young adults in Midwest Brazil.
Undergraduate university students (n 2163) majoring in health care.
Among 2163 students, 69·3 % were female, 65·4 % were aged 20–29 years, 66·8% consumed alcohol and 44·2% did not achieve more than 150 min of physical activity per week. We found significant differences in the consumption of beans (P < 0·04) and full-fat milk (P < 0·01) between women and men. Women also had more sedentary lifestyles (P < 0·01) and showed higher prevalence of overweight (33·8 %) and obesity (5·0 %) than men. Students who did not engage in physical activity were more overweight (P = 0·03), consumed more soft drinks (P < 0·01) and meat with excess fat (P = 0·01). There was a positive association between weight status and fruit (P = 0·02), salad (P < 0·01), greens/vegetables (P < 0·01) and beans (P < 0·01) intake.
The low level of physical activity and unhealthy eating patterns reported by the study participants were inconsistent with the national recommendations for a healthy active lifestyle for adults and may contribute to the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in this population. A joint effort between universities and all relevant government agencies is needed to develop and promote school- and community-based interventions.
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