An Examination of Mental and Physical Health in College
Type of DegreeDissertation
Rehabilitation and Special Education
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The transitional years of college that a traditional student faces are full of change and adaptation; these years of emerging adulthood require learning how to balance new responsibilities. Although this new independence can be liberating, this transitional time has been found to be a stressful period of life (Kaddison & DiGeronimo, 2004). The purpose of this study is to examine longitudinal changes in percent body fat and experience of depressive symptomology throughout emerging adulthood. Research indicates that mental health can directly affect physical health (Faith, Butryn, Wadden, Fabricatore, Nguyen, & Heymsfield, 2011). The participants for this study consisted of 535(n=190 males, and n=345 females). The data indicated that although emerging adults in this sample showed symptoms of depression throughout college, their level of depression symptomology was more in line with sub-threshold depression rather than being diagnosed with depression. In regards to body fat, an average of 3.39 percent body fat was gained over the four years of college. When depression symptomology was used to predict changes in body fat significant results were not found. However, females’ depression symptomology was a significant predictor of initial (freshman year) percent body fat. Therefore, with mental and physical health being so important in emerging adulthood research needs to continue to focus on these variables.