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HomeDietetics and Human NutritionResearch2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science › The Relationship between Indoor Tanning and Eating Habits of College Students

2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science

The Relationship between Indoor Tanning and Eating Habits of College Students

Audra Issac

Audra Isaac


Objective: To examine the relationship between indoor tanning and the eating and exercise habits of female college students. To determine if tanning bed use correlated with a lower BMI and increased incidence of disordered eating in participants.

Introduction: Indoor tanning is very popular among young adults in the United States, particularly high school and college-aged females. Despite the fact that most young adults are knowledgeable about the dangers of indoor and outdoor tanning, the number of skin cancer cases continues to grow. Previous studies have shown a positive correlation between tanning bed usage and unhealthy eating patterns.

Design: Analytical survey study.

Setting: University of Kentucky

Subjects: 106 female undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky

Methods: Surveys were distributed from February to March 2009. The anonymous survey and contained inquiries regarding age, weight, height, frequency of tanning bed use, eating habits, dieting practices, and exercise habits. Each of the variables from the subjects were entered into Microsoft Excel to be sorted and analyzed. Tables and charts were then created to aid the display of results.

Results: Data obtained from the participants was sorted and analyzed so that any relationships between tanning bed use and eating or exercise habits could be observed. Of the 106 participants, 50% used the tanning bed and 50% did not. The average BMI of the tanning bed users is 21.81 ± 2.37 and is 23.48 ± 3.88 for non-tanners, which is statistically significant (p = 0.008995). It was also shown that tanners ate fast food more often than non-tanners, and the difference was statistically significant (p = 0.031296). Among those surveyed who use the tanning bed, 73.6% have dieted while only 58.5% of non-tanners have dieted.

Conclusion: Based on the data obtained and analyzed in this study, there was a significant difference between the BMI of tanning bed users and non-tanners (p = 0.008995). There was also a significant difference between the number of tanning bed users who eat fast food and the number of non-tanners who eat fast food (p = 0.031296). The results of this survey seem to be contradictory in several areas, indicating a need for further research in the area.


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