Friday, June 10, 2011

Does going to exchange make students fat?

1. Introduction
Hearing stories about the weight change triggered the curiosity to find out some exact numbers about the weight change. The purpose of this research is to find out does an exchange period make students gain or lose weight. Also some reasons for the weight change are discussed.

2. Research method
The data was collected among the exchange students of Joensuu 2010-2011. This means students who stayed only one semester or whole academic year in Joensuu. The data was collected with e-form which was sent via Facebook as a private event with link to the e-form. 196 received the event and 86 responded to the survey which is 44%. The e-form consisted three questions. The first two were obligatory: 1. Sex?, 2. How your exchange period in Joensuu effected to your weight? with four options: I don't know, I gained weight, I lost weight and It is the same. The third question "what do you think that why did you gain or lose weight during your exchange year?" was optional.

3. Background
Taking part to an exchange program means moving to a new environment. In the new environment making changes to the old routines happens very likely. In this study attention is drawn how it effects to the body weight. Which new habits are adapted that effects the body weight. The exchange year has a reputation of party time and partying means usually unhealthy food and drinking alcohol. Finland is an expensive country where especially the high price of alcohol might prevent from drinking.

4. Results
As we can see from the figure 1. going to the exchange makes students gain more weight. 54% of the students gained weight, 28% lost weight, 3% didn't know and 15% maintained their current body weight. But looking at the figures 2 and 3 reveals that females gained weight more than males. 70% of the women gained weight and it is much more compared to males as 31% of the males gained weight. Among males it was actually more common to lose weight which happened to 37% of the males. Also some females were able to lose weight but only 28% lost weight which is much smaller number compared to the ones who gained weight. 26% of the males were able to maintain their weight but only 6% of the females maintained their weight.

70 persons gave reasons to the change in the weight. Doing sports especially bicycling was seen a big reason for losing weight and not doing sports was seen as fattening effect. Also eating healthier food helped in losing weight. Eating in the student restaurant helped few persons to lose weight but on the other hand some persons opinion it made them gain weight. Drinking alcohol and partying was seen the second biggest reason for gaining weight but alcohol also helped somebody to lose weight because it made him lose the appetite. Eating sweet and unhealthy food was seen the biggest factor for gaining weight. Also social eating made some people gain weight. The cold weather was blamed for causing weight gains. In some students opinion also different timetable compared to their country caused them to gain weight.

5. Conclusions
The study reveals that especially females gained more weight during the exchange year. Eating unhealthy food and drinking were the main reasons for gaining weight. High price of alcohol did not prevent students from drinking except in one case. This study doesn't give answers why bigger number of women gained weight than men. So there is space for further research about this subject. Other interesting options to research more would be to make the same study to the exchange students in different countries and how many kilograms the students actually gained.

1 comment:

  1. I will add, males have more sex than females in Finland