Disordered Eating Behaviors and Food Addiction among Nutrition Major College Students

Nutrients. 2016 Oct 26;8(11):673. doi: 10.3390/nu8110673.


Evidence of whether nutrition students are free from food-related issues or at higher risk for eating disorders is inconsistent. This study aimed to assess disordered eating behaviors and food addiction among nutrition and non-nutrition major college students. Students (n = 967, ages 18-25, female 72.7%, white 74.8%) enrolled at a public university completed online demographic characteristics surveys and validated questionnaires measuring specific disordered eating behaviors. Academic major category differences were compared. Additionally, high risk participants were assessed by weight status and academic year. Overall, 10% of respondents were a high level of concern for developing eating disorders. About 10.3% of respondents met criteria for food addiction. In addition, 4.5% of respondents had co-occurrence of eating disorder risk and food addiction risk out of total respondents. There were no significant differences in level of concern for developing an eating disorder, eating subscales, or food addiction among academic majors. The percentage of high risk participants was lower in the underweight/normal weight group than in the overweight/obese group in health-related non-nutrition major students but not in nutrition students. Early screening, increasing awareness, and promoting healthy eating habits could be potential strategies to help treat and prevent the development of disorders or associated health conditions in nutrition as well as non-nutrition students.

Keywords: disordered eating behaviors; eating disorder; food addiction; nutrition students.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Students*
  • Thinness / complications
  • Thinness / psychology
  • Universities
  • Young Adult