The effect of stress on eating practices among university faculty

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Yake, Melissa L.
Kandiah, Jayanthi
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between comfort food preferences of college faculty when under normal (non-stressful) and stressful conditions. Thirty-four percent (n=63) of the participants were males and 66 percent (n=121) were females. Sixty-seven percent (n=123) experienced a change in appetite when stressed, with 69 percent (n=85) experiencing an increase and 31 percent (n=38) experiencing a decrease in appetite. Participants chose a significantly wider variety of foods when under stressful conditions for both sweet (p=<.001) and salty/crunchy food categories (p=.004). High restrained eaters chose significantly more types of sweet foods (p=.031) and beverages (p=.020) than low restrained eaters when comparing stressful and normal conditions. These findings suggest the majority of adults may experience changes in appetite with stress, specifically an increased appetite, and may choose more types of sweet and salty/crunchy foods. An individual's restraint level, gender, and age may also play a role in comfort food choice.