Factors Associated with Body Weight Changes among Nigerian Postgraduate Students at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Malaysia

  • Hadiza Abdullahi Abubakar
  • Mohd Razif Shahril
  • Sharifah Wajihah Wafa Faculty of Health Sciences Universiti Sultan Zainal ABidin


International students usually experience a change in body weight and eating behaviour after migrating to a host country. The aim of this study is to determine the factors associated with body weight changes among Nigerian postgraduate students at Unversiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Malaysia. A prospective study was conducted for six months to determine the association between body weight changes and socio-demographic, eating behavior, physical activity, dietary intake and quality of life. A total of 82 students (76 male and six females) completed a set of self-administered questionnaires, and their weight and height were measured. Descriptive statistic and paired t-test were carried out to analyze the data (IBM SPSS Version 20.0). Multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to determine the factors. Body weight significantly increased by 2.3 ± 0.5 kg after 6 months. Being an art student (β=1.67, p=0.006), being a female (β=-2.68, p=0.009), consuming breakfast once a week (β=5.10, P=<0.001),  taking morning tea less than once a month or never at all (β= 3.62, p<0.001), consuming lunch one to three times a month (β=-2.57, p= 0.006), taking afternoon tea two to three days a week (β=2.56, P=0.005), skipping meal sometimes (β=1.22, p= 0.049), taking meal at other food stalls, coffee shops or hawkers’ centers less than once a month or never at all (β=-2.31, p= <0.001) were adjusted significant associated factors for body weight changes. Socio-demography and eating behaviour were found to be the significant predicting factors of body weight changes. This paper concludes that the change in environment has an impact on body weight and eating behaviour of Nigerian students. 


Adenike Adesola, O. (2014). Breakfast habit and nutritional status of undergraduates in Ekiti State, Nigeria. Science Journal of Public Health, 2(4), 252.

Afolabi, W. A. O., Towobola, S. K., Oguntona, C. R. B., & Olayiwola, I. O. (2013). Pattern of fast food consumption and contribution to nutrient intakes of Nigerian university students. International Journal of Education and Research, 1(5), 1-10.

Almohanna, A., Conforti, F., Eigel, W., & Barbeau, W. (2015). Impact of dietary acculturation on the food habits, weight, blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose levels of international college students. Journal of American College Health, 63(5), 307-314.

Almohanna, A. S., Barbeau, W. E., Conforti, F. D., & Eigel, W. N. (2010). Impact of the American Diet on Newly-Arrived International Students during their first three months at Virginia Tech. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Anding, J. D., Suminski, R. R., & Boss, L. (2001). Dietary intake, body mass index, exercise, and alcohol: are college women following the dietary guidelines for Americans? Journal of American College Health, 49(4), 167-171.

Khan, M. A. N., Mohamad, N. A., Hameed, M. A., & Ismail, N. E. (2011, December). Eating habits and body weight profiles among undergraduate students in UiTM Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. In Humanities, Science and Engineering (CHUSER), 2011 IEEE Colloquium on (pp. 274-280). IEEE.

Bjørnarå, H. B., Vik, F. N., Brug, J., Manios, Y., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Jan, N., … Bere, E. (2013). The association of breakfast skipping and television viewing at breakfast with weight status among parents of 10-12-year-olds in eight European countries; the ENERGY (EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth) cross-sec. Public Health Nutrition, 17(4), 1–9.

Burgoine, T., Forouhi, N. G., Griffin, S. J., Wareham, N. J., & Monsivais, P. (2014). Associations between exposure to takeaway food outlets, takeaway food consumption, and body weight in Cambridgeshire, UK: population based, cross sectional study. BMJ , 348, g1464.

Chin, Y. S., & Mohd Nasir, M. T. (2009). Eating behaviors among female adolescents in Kuantan District, Pahang, Malaysia. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 8(4), 425–432.

Chin, Y.S. and Mohd Nasir, M. T. (2009). Eating behavior among female adolescents in Kuatan District, Pahang, Malaysia. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 8(4), 425–432.

Deforche, B., Van Dyck, D., Deliens, T., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2015). Changes in weight, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and dietary intake during the transition to higher education: a prospective study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12(1), 1. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12(1), 1.

Edmonds, M. J., Ferreira, K. J., Nikiforuk, E. A., Finnie, A. K., Leavey, S. H., Duncan, A. M., & Randall Simpson, J. A. (2008). Body weight and percent body fat increase during the transition from high school to university in females. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(6), 1033–1037.

Elhassan, M. R., Gamal, H. E., & Mohammed, G. S. S. (2013). Nutrition knowledge, attitude and practices among students of Ahfad University for Women. Indian J Sci Res, 4(1), 25–34.

Golubic, R., Wijndaele, K., Sharp, S. J., Simmons, R. K., Griffin, S. J., Wareham, N. J., ... & Brage, S. (2015). Physical activity, sedentary time and gain in overall and central body fat: 7-year follow-up of the ProActive trial cohort. International Journal of Obesity, 39(1), 142-148.

Hammer, M., Johnson, E., Huffman, A., Vidal, T., Summers, L., Nixon, D. and, & Kavouras, S. (2014). Physical activity, body weight and hydration status. In International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings (Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 22).

Hovhannisyan, M. G. (2007). Dietary Changes of First-Year Foreign Students Studying at Yerevan State. Master Thesis. American University of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia.

Huda, N., & Ahmad, R. (2010). Preliminary survey on nutritional status among university students at Malaysia. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 9(2), 125–127.

IPAQ. (2005). Guidelines for Data Processing and Analysis of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire ( IPAQ ) – Short and Long Forms. Retrieved from http://www.ipaq.ki.se/scoring.pdf

Lee, J., Gao, R.-R., & Kim, J.-H. (2015). Acculturation and changes in dietary behavior and anthropometric measures among Chinese international students in South Korea. Nutrition Research and Practice, 9(3), 304-312.

Mackenbach, J. D., Rutter, H., Compernolle, S., Glonti, K., Oppert, J.-M., Charreire, H., … Lakerveld, J. (2014). Obesogenic environments: a systematic review of the association between the physical environment and adult weight status, the SPOTLIGHT project. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 233.

Mikolajczyk, R. T., El Ansari, W., & Maxwell, A. E. (2009). Food consumption frequency and perceived stress and depressive symptoms among students in three European countries. Nutrition Journal, 8, 31.

Mokhtari, T., Jamaluddin, R., & Saad, H. A. (2015). Lifestyle and psychological factors associated with body weight status among university students in Malaysia. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 14(1), 18–28.

Neumark-Sztainer, D., Wall, M., Story, M., & Standish, A. R. (2012). Dieting and unhealthy weight control behaviors during adolescence: associations with 10-year changes in body mass index. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50(1), 80-86..

Niemeier, H. M., Raynor, H. A., Lloyd-Richardson, E. E., Rogers, M. L., & Wing, R. R. (2006). Fast food consumption and breakfast skipping: predictors of weight gain from adolescence to adulthood in a nationally representative sample. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(6), 842-849.

Papadaki, A., Hondros, G., Scott, J. A., & Kapsokefalou, M. (2007). Eating habits of university students living at, or away from home in Greece. Appetite, 49, 169–176.

Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743-760.

Rosenheck.R. (2012). Fast food consumption and increased caloric intake: a systematic review of a trajectory towards weight gain and obesity risk. Obesity Reviews, 9(6), 535–547.

Rosenthal, D. A., Russell, J., & Thomson, G. (2008). The health and wellbeing of international students at an Australian university. Higher Education, 55(1), 51–67.

Savige, G., MacFarlane, A., Ball, K., Worsley, A., & Crawford, D. (2007). Snacking behaviours of adolescents and their association with skipping meals. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4(36), 1–9.

Serlachius, A., Hamer, M., & Wardle, J. (2007). Stress and weight change in university students in the United Kingdom. Physiology & Behavior, 92, 548–553.

Silliman, K., Rodas-fortier, K., & Neyman, M. (2004). A survey of dietary and exercise habits and perceived barriers to following a healthy lifestyle in a college population. Californian Journal of Health Oromotion, 2(2), 10–19.

Sneve, M., & Jorde, R. (2008). Cross-sectional study on the relationship between body mass index and smoking, and longitudinal changes in body mass index in relation to change in smoking status: the Tromso Study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36(4), 397–407.

Wengreen, H. J., & Moncur, C. (2009). Change in diet, physical activity, and body weight among young-adults during the transition from high school to college. Nutrition Journal, 8, 1–7.

WHO. (1996). WHOQOL-BREF: introduction, administration, scoring and generic version of the assessment: field trial version, December 1996. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/63529/1/WHOQOL-BREF.pdf

WHO Expert Consultation. (2004). Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies. Lancet, 363(9403), 157.

Wilson, S. L., Gallivan, A., Kratzke, C., & Amatya, A. (2012). Nutritional status and socio-ecological factors associated with overweight/obesity at a rural-serving US-Mexico border university. Rural and Remote Health, 12(4), 2228.

Zarei, M., Mohd Taib, M. N., Zarei, F., & Abu Saad, H. (2013). Factors associated with body weight status of Iranian postgraduate students in Universiti Putra Malaysia. Nursing and Midwifery Studies, 2(2), 97–102.

How to Cite
Abubakar, H. A., Shahril, M. R., & Wafa, S. W. (2016). Factors Associated with Body Weight Changes among Nigerian Postgraduate Students at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Malaysia. Malaysian Journal of Applied Sciences, 1(2), 27-40. Retrieved from https://journal.unisza.edu.my/myjas/index.php/myjas/article/view/15
Research Articles