COVID-19 Stress and COVID-19 Distress with Maladaptive Eating and Adaptive Eating Among College Students



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Stress negatively impacts health. Stress is a mental state resulting from challenge, discomfort, or change. Whereas distress is a mental state that is chronic and extreme causing negative emotions. Stress naturally occurs in response to stimuli compared to distress, where one cannot adapt to challenges or discomfort. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased stress and distress. Specific stressors during COVID-19 included lockdown mandates, social distancing, and fear of COVID-19. All of these impacted eating behaviors drastically during this time due to stress and distress. Importantly, college students are understudied in terms of COVID-19 and eating behaviors. Specifically, understanding eating behaviors among college students who are already predisposed to maladaptive eating patterns is an important step. The prevalence of maladaptive eating behaviors by COVID-19 stress was shown to be significant for different maladaptive eating behaviors. Additionally, some specific eating behaviors are associated with moderate distress and severe distress Thus, our results clearly show that maladaptive eating behaviors are significantly negatively impacted as stress increases. It is important to understand the impact of COVID-19 on college students in terms of eating patterns. Our results suggest maladaptive eating patterns were significantly impacted by this pandemic. No impact was made on adaptive eating disorders when faced with stress and distress from COVID-19, which suggests implementing adaptive behaviors early on in life can be beneficial. Our results imply the need for early prevention and adaptation of adaptive eating behaviors early in life.



Human nutrition and foods