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Jose Navarrete1, Jeremy A. Steeves1, Scott A. Conger, FACSM2. 1Maryville College, Maryville, TN. 2Boise State University, Boise, ID.

Background: College students have demanding workloads and stress that may impact their health-related behaviors. This study investigated the effects of college students’ workload and stress on diet, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and BMI. Methods: Full time (12-credit hr) college students were recruited to complete an anonymous online survey. Participants completed the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ-r18), the International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form, and reported fruit and vegetable intake, credit hours, employment and athletic time demands and anthropometrics. A modified NASA Task Load Index (TLX) was completed to determine the demands of the previous week, as measures of workload and stress. Independent sample T or Mann Whitney U tests compared diet, MVPA, and BMI between those with high workloads (18+ credit hours, employed >20 hr/wk, or sports >10 hr/wk) and those with lower workloads, and those with high scores on the frustration/ stress scale of the TLX (>8 out of 10) and those with lower scores. Results: Participants (n=67) were 20.5±2.0 years old, white (82%), female (82%) and overweight or obese (61%). 16% of students took 18+ credit hours, 15% worked > 20 hr/wk, 10% played sport >10 hr/wk, and 57% had high frustration/stress. On average, fruit and vegetable intake (3.3±1.8 servings/wk) was 25% less than the recommendation and MVPA (67.7±100.4 min/wk) was 50% below the recommendations. Data from the TFEQ-r18 suggests that most of the participants had relatively high cognitive restraint (49.6±20.7), uncontrolled eating (36.0±19.3) and emotional eating behaviors (41.8±27.0). There were no significant differences between diet, MVPA, or BMI based on workload (high vs. low for credit, work, or sport). Those high on the frustration scale scored significantly higher on the cognitive restraint scale (54.7±20.0) compared to those with lower frustration scores (42.9±19.9; P=0.02). Those with high levels of frustration trended towards less MVPA (47.9±85.1 min/wk) than those who reported less frustration (93.7±113.8 min/wk; p=0.06). Conclusion: Workload was not associated with diet, MVPA, or BMI in this sample. Highly frustrated or stressed students may engage in restrained eating and participate in less MVPA. Strategies to improve fruit and vegetable intake and MVPA and may help students cope with the demands of college.

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