Are Psychological Distress and Resilience Associated With Dietary Intake Among Australian University Students?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 24;16(21):4099. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16214099.

Abstract

University students report unhealthy diets and experience poorer mental health than the general population. This study explores the association between psychological distress and resilience with dietary intake in a sample of Australian university students. Cross-sectional data from the University of Newcastle Student Healthy Lifestyle Survey 2017 were analysed. Psychological distress (Kessler Scale), resilience (Brief Resilience Scale) and fruit, vegetable, soft drink, takeaway food and breakfast intakes (short diet questions) were assessed. Socio-demographic (e.g., gender), student (e.g., undergraduate/postgraduate) and health characteristics (e.g., physical activity) were captured. Multivariate linear regression models explored associations between psychological distress and resilience with dietary intake, with adjustment for potential confounders. Analysis included 2710 students (mean age 26.9 ± 9.5 years, 30.4% male). In adjusted models, lower psychological distress was associated with higher fruit (β = -0.37, p = 0.001) and vegetable (β = -0.37, p < 0.001) serves/day, more frequent breakfast consumption (p < 0.001) and less frequent soft drink and takeaway food consumption (p < 0.001). Higher resilience was associated with higher fruit (β = 0.03, p = 0.022) and vegetable (β = 0.06, p < 0.001) serves/day, more frequent breakfast consumption (p = 0.005), and less frequent soft drink (p < 0.001) and takeaway food consumption (p = 0.001). These results highlight a potential link between psychological distress and resilience with diet, and that further research in this area is warranted.

Keywords: college students; diet; dietary intake; mental health; psychological distress; resilience; university students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Distress*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult