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Article

Diet Quality and Mental Health Status among Division 1 Female Collegiate Athletes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83201, USA
2
Department of Community and Public Health, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83201, USA
3
Department of Psychology, The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK 74104, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13377; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413377
Received: 30 October 2021 / Revised: 9 December 2021 / Accepted: 17 December 2021 / Published: 19 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Relationship between Food Intake and Emotional Health)
The International Olympic Committee has identified mental health as a priority that significantly affects the physical health and safety of collegiate athletes. Interventions that improve diet quality have been shown to improve mental health in several populations. However, studies are needed to examine this relationship in female collegiate athletes, who have elevated risk of experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as dietary insufficiencies. In a quantitative, cross-sectional study, female student athletes at a U.S. university completed three mental health questionnaires: Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire (APSQ), and COVID Stress Scales (CSS). Each female athlete also completed a validated, web-based Diet History Questionnaire (DHQ-III) resulting in a Healthy Eating Index (HEI). Seventy-seven participants completed all survey information. HEI scores were consistently higher for athletes with poorer mental health. HEI scores were significantly positively associated with stress (p = 0.015), performance concerns (p = 0.048), CSS components of danger (p = 0.007), contamination (p = 0.006), and traumatic stress (p = 0.003). Although findings support statistically significant associations among dietary quality and mental health indicators, including broad symptom severity or stressors specific to athletics or COVID-19, these associations were in the opposite direction hypothesized. Possible reasons for results and suggestions for future research are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: female; collegiate athletes; diet quality; mental health; Healthy Eating Index; COVID-19; nutrition; stress female; collegiate athletes; diet quality; mental health; Healthy Eating Index; COVID-19; nutrition; stress
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MDPI and ACS Style

Christensen, N.; van Woerden, I.; Aubuchon-Endsley, N.L.; Fleckenstein, P.; Olsen, J.; Blanton, C. Diet Quality and Mental Health Status among Division 1 Female Collegiate Athletes during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 13377. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413377

AMA Style

Christensen N, van Woerden I, Aubuchon-Endsley NL, Fleckenstein P, Olsen J, Blanton C. Diet Quality and Mental Health Status among Division 1 Female Collegiate Athletes during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(24):13377. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413377

Chicago/Turabian Style

Christensen, Natalie, Irene van Woerden, Nicki L. Aubuchon-Endsley, Pamela Fleckenstein, Janette Olsen, and Cynthia Blanton. 2021. "Diet Quality and Mental Health Status among Division 1 Female Collegiate Athletes during the COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 24: 13377. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413377

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