A Comparative Study of Dietary Habits among College Students At-Risk and Not-At-Risk for Eating Disorders and how Such Habits Compare to the Dietary Guidelines
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Objective: To examine associations between eating disorder (ED) risk and dietary habits. Also, to determine if ED risk changes after exposure to nutrition education and to investigate how the dietary habits in both at-risk (AR) and not-at-risk (NAR) college students compare the Dietary Guidelines (DG). Design: A longitudinal observational study over one academic year. Self-reported dietary intake was collected via seven-day food records. The Eating Attitudes Test 26 (EAT-26) was used to assess ED risk. Subjects underwent measurements of height, weight, skin fold, waist circumference and hip circumference. Subjects/Setting: Data from 507 students enrolled in one of two fall 2005 nutrition/health courses at a land grant university in southwest Virginia were analyzed. Main Outcome Measures: ED risk, mean daily intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, protein, total calories, and changes in ED risk over one academic year. BMI, weight change, percent body fat, and waist circumference were also evaluated. Statistical Analysis Performed: Associations between ED risk and mean daily intake of dietary variables were assessed using independent samples t-tests (p<0.05). Changes in mean EAT-26 scores were assessed using paired-t tests. Changes in the proportion of subjects categorized as AR and NAR were evaluated using Chi-square analysis. Results: This study was completed by 192 subjects. Those AR consumed significantly fewer calories than NAR subjects in both September. In April, AR subjects consumed significantly fewer fried vegetable servings than NAR subjects. Chi-square analysis in April revealed that the size of the NAR group increased thus reducing the size of the AR group. Overall, subjectsâ diets failed to meet the DG for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dietary fiber. Conclusion: Overall dietary intake did not vary significantly between AR and NAR subjects, excepting lower caloric intake and fewer fried vegetable servings in those AR. Both groups failed to meet the DG for fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dietary fiber. Application: Educational interventions emphasizing the DG may improve ED risk but warrant more specific targeting of poor dietary habits in order to increase the college populationâ s compliance with the DG.
- Masters Theses