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Health Educ Behav. 2016 Apr;43(2):139-44. doi: 10.1177/1090198115598983. Epub 2015 Aug 13.

Stress, Health Risk Behaviors, and Weight Status Among Community College Students.

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University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


The objective of this study was to describe the relationship between stress, weight-related health risk behaviors (e.g., eating behaviors, physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep, cigarette smoking, and binge drinking), and weight status using cross-sectional data on 2-year community college students enrolled in a randomized controlled weight gain prevention trial. Modified Poisson regression and linear regression were used to examine crude and adjusted cross-sectional associations. Higher stress was associated with higher prevalence of overweight/obesity (crude prevalence ratio [PR] = 1.05; 95% confidence interval [CI: 1.01, 1.09]), though the relationship was no longer statistically significant after controlling for a wide range of weight-related health risk behaviors (adjusted PR = 1.04; 95% CI [1.00, 1.08]). Stress levels were significantly associated with meal skipping and being a current smoker. Future research should investigate the mechanisms through which stress is related to obesity risk and examine the causes of stress among this understudied population to inform the design of appropriate interventions.


college health; diet; health behavior; mental health; obesity; physical activity/exercise; sleep; smoking and tobacco use

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