Weight gain is a common phenomenon among college students, especially those in their first year of university. Transitioning from high school to the college environment might increase perceived stress levels, thus affecting dietary behaviors and metabolism to promote overweight and obesity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the physical activities and dietary behaviors of college students in the context of their perceived stress levels. In addition, the demographic characteristics of the students were compared to ascertain their impact on dietary behaviors. Self-reported questionnaires were distributed to college students on campus in Korea. Perceived stress was measured by the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), the scores for which were evaluated by independent t
-tests to compare the dietary behaviors of the high- and low-perceived stress groups. Exploratory factor analysis was performed and Cronbach’s alphas were computed to assess the validity and internal consistency of the PSS-10 measurement items. Differences in the physical activities and dietary behaviors of the college students based on demographics such as sex, academic year, and residence type were found. Several dietary behaviors were significantly different between students with low and high perceived stress levels. Students with high perceived stress levels exhibited increased unhealthy dietary behaviors such as ready-prepared meal consumption (p
< 0.001). These results suggest that stress management should be offered to college students. In addition, programs should be provided to help first-year students adjust to the college environment in order to promote healthy dietary behaviors.
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