Nutrition and Food Sciences
Chronic Disease; Nutrition; Unhealthy; Stress, Stress Management
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Stress is something that everyone faces in their lifetime and has an everlasting impact on their health. College students face high levels of stress throughout the semester, but how is that impacting their behavior? I conducted a survey alongside Dr. Melanson, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, to see just how college students are reacting to stress. The survey was circulated to different departments and classes to achieve a widespread collection of data. The survey remained completely anonymous and posed questions about eating, exercise, and sleep habits, along with questions on demographics and stress levels. Our goal was to gain insight on how college students react to stress and engage in various habits that can be impacted by stress. The results of the survey showed an increase in the consumption of unhealthy snacks, a decrease in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and an increase in food intake. In addition, we found that college students get less sleep and are sleeping worse due to stress. There was also an overall decrease in the amount of exercise per week students get when they are stressed compared to when they are not stressed. Stress can have long term effects and these behaviors can impact their health later on in their lives. Stress alone can put people at a higher risk for chronic diseases, but the unhealthy eating habits, the lack of sleep, and the decrease in weekly exercise can also increase the risk of chronic diseases. The behaviors of students during stressful times can impact their lives in 20 years, so it is important to be mindful of the unhealthy habits one is engaging in. By conducting this survey and understanding how college students are reacting to stress, we are able to gain insight on the behaviors that will impact the rest of their lives. We can take the information gained from this study and help students understand why maintaining healthy habits when they are stressed will decrease their chances of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes in their futures. The actions of today may not be seen until 20 years from now and it is crucial to be mindful of that.
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