• Does the Association between Depressive Symptomatology and Physical Activity Depend on Body Image Perception? A Survey of Students from Seven Universities in the UK

      El Ansari, Walid; Stockton, Christine; Phillips, Ceri; Mabhala, Mzwandile A.; Stoate, Mary; Adetunji, Hamed; Deeny, Pat; John, Jill; Davies, Shân; Parke, Sian; et al. (MDPI, 2011-01-25)
      This cross-sectional study assessed the association between depression and PA in university students of both genders and the role of body image perception as a potential effect modifier. Undergraduate students (N = 3706) from seven universities in the UK completed a self-administered questionnaire that assessed sociodemographic information; a range of health, health behaviour and health awareness related factors; the modified version of Beck’s Depression Inventory (M-BDI); educational achievement, and different levels of physical activity (PA), such as moderate PA (at least 5 days per week moderate exercise of at least 30 minutes), and vigorous PA (at least 3 days per week vigorous exercise of at least 20 minutes). Only 12.4% of the sample achieved the international recommended level for moderate PA, and 33.1% achieved the recommendations for vigorous PA. Both moderate and vigorous PA were inversely related to the M-BDI score. Physically active students, regardless of the type of PA, were significantly more likely to perceive their health as good, to have higher health awareness, to perform strengthening exercises, and to be males. The stratified analyses indicated that the association between depression and PA differed by body image. In students perceiving their body image as ‘just right’, moderate (>4th percentile) and high (>5th percentile) M-BDI scores were inversely related to vigorous PA. However, in students who perceived their body image as ‘overweight’, the inverse association was only significant in those with high M-BDI scores. We conclude that the positive effect of PA on depression could be down modulated by the negative impact of a ‘distorted’ body image on depression. The practical implications of these findings are that PA programmes targeting persons with depressive symptoms should include effective components to enhance body image perception.
    • Feeling Healthy? A Survey of Physical and Psychological Wellbeing of Students from Seven Universities in the UK

      El Ansari, Walid; Stock, Christiane; Snelgrove, Sherrill; Hu, Xiaoling; Parke, Sian; Davies, Shân; John, Jill; Adetunji, Hamed; Stoate, Mary; Deeny, Pat; et al. (MDPI, 2011-04-27)
      Abstract: University students’ physical and psychological health and wellbeing are important and comprise many variables. This study assessed perceived health status in addition to a range of physical and psychological wellbeing indicators of 3,706 undergraduate students from seven universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We compared differences in these variables between males and females, and across the participating universities. The data was collected in 2007–2008. A self-administered questionnaire assessed socio-demographic information (e.g., gender, age), self-reported physical and psychological health data, as well as questions on health awareness, health service use, social support, burdens and stressors and university study related questions. While females generally reported more health problems and psychological burdens, male students felt that they received/had fewer persons to depend on for social support. The comparisons of health and wellbeing variables across the different universities suggested some evidence of ‘clustering’ of the variables under study, whereby favourable situations would be exhibited by a cluster of the variables that is encountered at some universities; and conversely, the clustering of less favourable variables as exhibited at other universities. We conclude that the level of health complaints and psychological problems/burdens is relatively high and calls for increased awareness of university administrators, leaders and policy makers to the health and well-being needs of their students. The observed clustering effects also indicate the need for local (university-specific) health and wellbeing profiles as basis and guidance for relevant health promotion programmes at universities.
    • Health Promoting Behaviours and Lifestyle Characteristics of Students at Seven Universities in the UK

      El Ansari, Walid; Stock, Christiane; John, Jill; Deeny, Pat; Phillips, Ceri; Snelgrove, Sherrill; Adetunji, Hamed; Hu, Xiaoling; Parke, Sian; Stoate, Mary; et al. (PMID, 2011-12-01)
      AIMS: University students' wellbeing and health promoting and damaging behaviours are important and comprise many parameters. The purpose of this study was to assess a range of health behaviours and lifestyle characteristics of 3,706 undergraduate students from seven universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We compared differences in these parameters between males and females, and across the participating universities. METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire assessed socio-demographic information (e.g., gender, age), nutrition, dietary intake and food consumption patterns, as well as the importance of healthy eating, three levels of physical activity, restful sleep, tobacco smoking, use of illicit substance (recreational drugs), frequency of binge drinking and problem drinking. The data was collected in 2007-2008. RESULTS: While females generally reported lower use of tobacco, illicit substances and alcohol (binge drinking/problem drinking) and consumed more fruits and vegetables, male students had a higher level of physical activity, consumed less sweets and had more restful sleep. When lifestyle characteristics of students were compared between the different universities we observed some 'clustering' of the parameters under study, whereby favourable health practices would be exhibited at some universities; and conversely, the clustering of less favourable practices exhibited at other participating sites. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that only a minority of students exhibited positive health practices above recommended levels and the level of binge drinking and problem drinking was high. This calls for increased awareness of university administrators, leaders and policy makers to the risky health habits of their students. The observed clustering effects also indicate the need for local (university-specific) health profiles as basis and guidance for relevant health promotion programmes at universities
    • How Do I Look? Body Image Perceptions among University Students from England and Denmark

      El Ansari, Walid; Vodder Clausen, Susanne; Mabhala, Mzwandile A.; Stockton, Christine; University of Gloucestershire; University of Chester; Benfield University (MDPI, 2010-02-21)
      This study examined differences in body image perception between university students in two European countries, United Kingdom and Denmark. A total of 816 British and 548 Danish university students participated in a cross-sectional survey. A self-administered questionnaire assessed socio-demographic information, body image perception (as “too thin”, “just right” or “too fat”), and the association of related factors with body image perception (nutrition behaviour, social support, perceived stressors and quality of life). The proportions of students who perceived themselves as “too thin”, “just right”, or “too fat” were 8.6%, 37.7%, and 53.7% respectively. Multi-factorial logistic regression analysis showed that students who perceived themselves as “too fat” were more likely to be from the British university, to be females, to be older than 30 years, to report stress due to their financial situation and were less likely to have a high quality of life. The findings highlight the need for interventions with focus on healthy food choices whilst acknowledging financial stressors and quality of life.
    • Public health and population dynamics

      Mabhala, Mzwandile A.; El Ansari, Walid; University of Chester ; University of Gloucestershire (SAGE, 2008-11-20)
      This book chapter discusses the effect that population growth will have on the health of the population, and on the economy and the environment.