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2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
The Effects of Stress on Weight in College Students
Most college students experience stress, often daily. Stress is frequently caused by a job, school, home responsibilities, and/or relationships. Internal factors that determine how one's body responds to and deals with the stressful situation includes overall health and fitness level, emotional status, nutritional status, and quality and amount of sleep and rest. The relationship between stress and body weight was examined in 200 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 114 female students (age 20.46±1.51 years) and 86 male students (age 20.37±1.62 years). The students completed surveys inquiring about their level of stress, what causes them stress, what they do and eat when stressed and body weight changes between freshman and sophomore year. Of those surveyed, 89.5% of females and 93.0% of males showed a change in body weight due to stress. School was shown to be the most often cause of stress among participants (100% of participants). School was shown to cause stress daily and weekly among participants (98.5% of participants). Participants reported consuming more pizza, soda, chips/snack foods and fast food during times of stress (87.5% of participants). Students also reported eating more during times of stress (52% of participants). Because stress correlates to body weight change it is important to teach students how to better cope with stress.