Self-regulation seems to be an important factor in weight maintenance in college students. After college enrollment, some students experience impactful circumstances causing mood change, which may lead to weight gain. Not much is known about the relationship between mood and self-regulation of food in college students.
To examine the correlation between mood and self-regulation of food intake in college students using an objective methodology.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Sixty undergraduate students (male and female with the mean age of 19.8 [SD = 1.43]) completed the study (2 visits with lunch buffets). Participants were offered a preload drink (with different calorie content each visit) 30 minutes prior to lunch. Students were asked to watch an emotional (sad) movie before lunch to change their emotional status.
Participants completed baseline questionnaires, and anthropometric measures. Compensation index (COMPX) was used to measure self-regulation. Regression analysis and ANOVA were used to examine the relationship between self-regulation and mood in different genders and Body Mass Index (BMI) categories.
Female students had significantly better COMPX scores (72.34 ± 60.75) compared to male students (130.87 ± 83.59) (F = 9.223, P = .004). The average mood change was −2.021 (SD = 2.75) and −3.057 (SD = 3.53) in males and females respectively. The data indicated a significant correlation between COMPX scores and general mood change (F = 5.486, P = .026, R2 = 0.159) in female college students. No correlation was found among males. There was no correlation between COMPX scores, self-regulation questionnaires, and BMI (P > .05). Data showed no significant association between mood change and COMPX scores when comparing different BMI categories (P > .05).
There was no relationship between self-reported and objective data regarding self-regulation. In general, there seems to be better self-regulatory skills in females compared to males. However, when exposed to a mood stimulus, female students appear to be more affected with a higher influence on their eating behaviors, whereas male students’ eating behaviors were not altered by the mood changes.