Given the rise in obesity and obesity-related disorders, understanding the relationship between stress, self-efficacy and food choice in young adulthood may have implications for preventing negative health outcomes later in life that stem from poor eating habits. The current study examined whether stress levels and diet self-efficacy may be associated with unhealthy eating habits in young adults.
Male and female undergraduate students (N = 136) completed questionnaires that tap into diet self-efficacy
(DSE), perceived stress (PS), sodium, and fat intake. Sex differences in choice of food were predicted, and low levels of perceived stress and high diet self-efficacy were expected to be associated with lower fat and sodium intake.
Findings indicate an interaction between perceived stress and diet self-efficacy on fat intake and a main effect for diet self-efficacy on sodium intake in this population. As expected, low levels of perceived stress and high diet
self-efficacy were associated with the lowest levels of fat and sodium intake in students. Findings were driven by females.
This study provides preliminary evidence that diet self-efficacy and perceived stress levels relate to nutrient intake in young adult females, and that increasing diet self-efficacy and reducing perceived stress in young adult females may lead to reductions in fat and sodium intake, leading to healthier eating habits.
Nastaskin, R. S., & Fiocco, A. J. (2015). A survey of diet self-efficacy and food intake in students with high and low perceived stress. Nutrition Journal, 14, 42.