Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Science




Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Kathleen Melanson


Objective: This study explored relationships among perceived stress, BMI, waist circumference, and eating and physical activity behaviors in college students and gender differences in these relationships.

Participants: Students from fourteen universities (n=1,116) recruited for a web-based health intervention in fall of 2009.

Methods: Secondary data analysis of study sample at baseline. Associations between stress, BMI and waist circumference, diet, weight-related eating behaviors, and physical activity were explored, as were the between-gender differences in these associations.

Results: Stress was positively correlated with BMI and waist circumference in females, but not in males. Females reported higher levels of stress and scored higher on all four subscales of the Weight Related Eating Questionnaire (WREQ) compared to males. There were significant stress and gender interaction effects for routine restraint and compensatory restraint scores. Compensatory restraint score only differed between stress tertiles in males.

Conclusions: Higher stress in college students is associated with slightly higher BMI and waist circumference. Females engage in more weight-related eating behaviors than males. There is a stronger association between stress and dietary restraint behaviors in males than in females



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