This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Perceived Stress, Eating Regulation, Body Mass Index, Weight, and Percent Body Fat Relationships over the First Two Years of College


Objective: To assess the associations among perceived stress, eating regulation and body mass index, weight, and percent body fat in college students during the first two years of college. Methods: Participants were recruited at the beginning of their college freshman year (2007 and 2008), and were assessed 2 to 3 times during the freshman and sophomore years. At each assessment, weight and height (using standard techniques), body composition (using bioelectrical impedance analysis), perceived stress (using the Perceived Stress Scale) and eating behavior (using the Regulation of Eating Behavior Scale) were examined. Of the 535 participants recruited at the beginning of the study, 319 participants (110 males, 209 females) were included in statistical analysis. Results: Individuals with high autonomous, high intrinsic motivation, high integrated, high identified, or low amotivation eating regulation behaviors and high perceived stress exhibited greater BMI, weight, and/or percent body fat than those individuals with these same eating regulation behaviors and low perceived stress. No gender differences were observed. Conclusions: College students with high perceived stress and high intrinsic motivation, high identified, high integrated, and low amotivation eating regulation behaviors may benefit from programs to help reduce or manage stress during the first two years of college.