The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping proposes that stress occurs when one perceives that a particular stressor outweighs one's resources to cope. Emotion- and stress-related eating may be used as a measure to cope, which can lead to an increase in caloric intake and weight gain.
The purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between constructs of The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping and weight status among college students.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Six hundred and ninety college students participated in an online survey.
The survey included the Emotion- and Stress-related Eating and the Appraisal of Ability and Resources to Cope sub-scales from the Eating and Appraisal Due to Emotions and Stress (EADES) Questionnaire, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), self-report of height and weight, and demographic questions. Responses were captured on a 5 point Likert scale where lower scores represent greater emotion- and stress-related eating, lower appraisal of skills and resources to cope, and less stress. Logistic regression analysis was used to test the relationship between weight status and emotion- and stress-related eating, appraisal of resources to cope, and PSS while adjusting for demographics.
In univariate analysis, when compared with healthy weight students, overweight/obese students had significantly lower Emotion-and Stress-related Eating scores (3.3 ± 0.7 vs 3.7 ± 0.8, P < .001) but similar PSS (17.4 ± 6.2 vs 16.9 ± 6.2, P = .23) and appraisal scores (3.6 ± 0.7 vs 3.7 ± 0.7, P = .10). After adjusting for demographics, overweight/obese individuals had significantly lower Emotion- and Stress-related Eating scores than their healthy weight counterparts regardless of perceived stress and appraisal to cope with stress (OR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.28-0.49).
Overweight and obese college students report more emotion- and stress-related eating compared to normal weight students; however, their perceived stress levels were similar. Emotion- and stress-related eating should be included in educational interventions.