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 SRU Exercise Science Major Wins Honors for College Student Body Weight Research 



Nov. 15, 2006

Contact: Gordon Ovenshine: 724-738-4854;


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. --Jennifer Basich, an exercise science major at Slippery Rock University, won the Undergraduate Student Investigator Award at the 29th Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the American College of Sports Medicine for her research showing many college students don’t recognize they may need to lose weight.

Faulty perception of body weight and lack of exercise contribute to weight problems among college students, the junior from Leetonia, Ohio, reported in “Perceptions of Body Weight and Weight Gain in America and Spanish College Students.”

Basich collected half her data while spending a semester abroad at La Universidad de Alcala de Henares in Spain and the other half at SRU. She surveyed students on body weight perceptions habits and the role of exercise in maintaining proper weight.

“People have a hard time thinking of themselves as overweight when they look around and they’re the same size as everyone else,” she said.

Her research findings suggest many college students who are overweight, according to health standards established by the National Institutes of Health, misclassify themselves as being “about the right weight.” This was particularly true of the men she studied.

Further, most of the American students who had gained weight in the past year did not identify “lack of physical activity” as an important reason for their weight gain. In fact, the American students who gained weight were only about half as likely as the Spanish students to recognize the importance of physical activity for help in avoiding weight gain in themselves.

Her research is important because it tells us that we need to focus attention on educating people to recognize their own healthy weight,” said Dr. Jeff Lynn, SRU assistant professor exercise and rehabilitative science and her adviser. “Other research has helped us understand how people gain and lose weight, but her study showed many people don’t even recognize they need to lose weight.”

The American College of Sports Medicine is a nonprofit organization that integrates scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. Students from Gettysburg College, Syracuse University, Skidmore College and Cornell University also made undergraduate research presentations. The conference was held in Harrisburg.

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