Perceived stress and dietary choices: The moderating role of stress management

Author: Errisuriz, V.L.; Pasch, K.E.; Perry, C.L.

Description: Many college students exhibit unhealthy eating behaviors, consuming large quantities of high-fat foods and few fruits and vegetables. Perceived stress has been linked to daily dietary choices among college students; however, this work has been conducted among predominantly white, female populations. The role of perceived stress management in moderating this relationship is unclear. This study investigated the relationship between perceived stress and dietary choices among a diverse sample of male and female college freshmen and assessed whether perceived ability to manage stress moderated this relationship. 613 students from a large, public university completed an online survey which assessed past week consumption of various foods and beverages (e.g. soda, fast food, fruits, vegetables), as well as perceived stress and ability to manage stress. Hierarchical linear regression examined the association between perceived stress and past week dietary choices, and the moderating effect of perceived ability to manage stress, controlling for demographic variables. Perceived stress was positively associated with past week soda, coffee, energy drink, salty snack, frozen food, and fast food consumption (p<0.05). Perceived stress management moderated the relationship between stress and sweet snack consumption. Individuals who reported low ability to manage stress consumed greater amounts. Findings indicate greater stress is associated with poor dietary choices among college freshmen. The relationship between stress and sweet snack consumption was exacerbated among those who reported low ability to manage stress. It may be important for college nutrition education programs to focus on the relationship between stress and diet and promote effective stress management techniques.

Subject Headings: Carbonated Beverages; Diet/psychology; Diet Surveys; Eating/psychology; Fast Foods; Feeding Behavior/psychology; Female; Food Preferences/psychology; Fruit; Humans; Male; Perception; Snacks; Stress, Psychological/psychology/therapy; Students/psychology; Universities; Vegetables; Young Adult; College students; Dietary behaviors; Perceived stress; Stress management

Publication year: 2016

Journal or book title: Eating Behaviors

Volume: 22

Pages: 211-216

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 2678