Abstract

This study examined the role of anxiety and depression symptoms in predicting dietary choices in emerging adults while accounting for sex differences in these relationships. Participants were 225 English speaking undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 25 who were enrolled in psychology courses at a university in the southeastern United States. Participants were recruited through an online research recruitment application utilized by the university. Participants volunteered for a two-phased anonymous survey monitoring the effects of eating habits and gastrointestinal health in young adults. As part of this effort, participants completed self-report measures related to anxiety and depression, as well as an automated, self-administered 24-hour diet recall. Multigroup path analysis was used to test the primary hypotheses. A decrease in total caloric intake and an increase in sugar consumption was found as self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression increased. There were sex differences in the relationship between depression and food choices. Men consumed more saturated fat as well as less fruit and vegetables as self-reported symptoms of depression increased. Overall, results suggest symptoms of depression are a risk factor for poor nutrition in men. The findings provide another justification to screen for psychological distress in primary care given the implications on behavioral lifestyle and health. Longitudinal studies with larger samples should be conducted to confirm these findings.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2020

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Cassisi, Jeffrey

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Program

Psychology Clinical

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0007975; DP0023116

URL

https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0023116

Language

English

Release Date

May 2025

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)

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