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Eat Behav. 2015 Dec;19:15-9. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.06.012. Epub 2015 Jul 2.

Relationships of eating competence, sleep behaviors and quality, and overweight status among college students.

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Department of Health Sciences, James Madison University, 801 Carrier Drive, MSC 4301, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.
Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.
Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA.
Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA.
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, USA.


Little is known about the relationships between eating competence (intra-individual approach to eating and food-related attitudes and behaviors that entrain positive bio-psychosocial outcomes) and sleep behaviors and quality in college students, a high-risk group for poor eating habits, weight gain, and inadequate sleep. Thus, data from full-time college students (N=1035; 82% White; 61% female) aged 18-24 years from 5 U.S. universities were obtained from online questionnaires (eating competence (ecSI), Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), physical activity, demographics) and physical assessments (measured height, weight), to explore sleep behavior and quality between eating-competent (EC; ecSI score≥32) and non-EC groups (ecSI<32). Generalized linear models controlling for gender, body mass index, and physical activity were utilized. A higher proportion of those in the EC group reported adequate sleep quality (67% vs. 57% in non-EC, p=0.001), sleep duration of ≥7 h nightly (58% vs. 50% in non-EC, p=0.007), and infrequent daytime dysfunction (72% vs. 65% in non-EC, p=0.02). When ecSI scores were grouped as tertiles, those in the highest tertile reported a higher prevalence of no sleep disturbances (7% vs. 2% in the lowest ecSI tertile, p=0.006) and lower prevalence of sleep medication use (10% vs. 15% in the lowest ecSI tertile, p=0.04). Results suggest that competent eaters are more likely to have better overall sleep quality and fewer sleep-related issuescompared to less competent eaters. These findings may inform future longitudinal studies, and health promotion and weight management interventions for young adults.


Behavior; College; Eating; Sleep; Students

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