Journal of Consumer Sciences

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A self-help weight-management manual limits weight gain in first-year female students living in university residences

M Senekal, C Lombard, J Harbron


This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a self-help weight-management manual in restricting weight gain in first-year female students (FYFS) in a controlled intervention. Four out of 12 residences on the Stellenbosch campus of Stellenbosch University were selected for the intervention group (baseline n=191, final follow-up n=95); and three for the control group (baseline n=169, final follow-up n=78) (cluster sampling). The intervention was a self-help weight-management manual. Differences in weight change (primary outcome) at three and eight months between groups was estimated using a linear mixed-effect regression model adjusting for baseline BMI. Multiple imputations were done for weight at each time point using regression models based on baseline weight, height, BMI, MUAC, triceps skinfold and middle and hip circumferences. Both groups had gained a similar amount of weight after 3 months. Weight gain continued in the control group, but plateaued in the intervention group, culminating in 0.9kg (95% CI: 0.1 to 1.7kg) (p=0.036) less weight gained at final follow-up than the control group. A low-intensity intervention (self-help manual) may thus be a feasible, potentially successful method to limit weight gain in FYFS.

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