Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) describes one's overall perception of well-being. Research has shown the impact of fruit and vegetable intake on HRQOL among college students, but the relationship between diet quality and HRQOL is unclear.
The objective was to assess the influence of diet quality on HRQOL among college students.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
A cross-sectional convenience sample of undergraduate students completed an online survey to capture health behaviors.
Diet quality was measured using the short Healthy Eating Index (sHEI). HRQOL was assessed using the Center for Disease Control's Healthy Days modules. A MANOVA was used to assess group differences in HRQOL between students who scored above average sHEI and students who scored the average sHEI and below.
The sample (n = 753) was mostly White (87.7%), female (69.8%), and an average of 20.90 ± 2.34 y/o. Average sHEI was 48.99 ± 10.37, indicating poor diet quality. On average, students reported 4.05 ± 6.31 days per month (d/m) with poor physical health, 11.81 ± 9.20 d/m with poor mental health, and 9.99 ± 8.00 d/m feeling healthy and full of energy. There was a significant difference in HRQOL between those who had above average sHEI and those who scored the average and below (F (3,711) = 6.19, P < 0.001, Wilk's Λ = .98, partial η 2 = .025). Students who had above average sHEI (51.3%) reported significantly more d/m feeling healthy and full of energy (11.27 ± 8.41 vs. 8.78 ± 7.4, p < 0.001) and less d/m with poor mental health (10.78 ± 8.91 vs. 12.69 ± 9.37, P < 0.01) compared to students who scored average and below. There were no significant difference for d/m with poor physical health.
Diet quality significantly differed in college students’ HRQOL. These findings provide justification for wellness-aimed interventions that address college-specific barriers of diet quality to improve HRQOL.
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project number #ME013054538 through the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station