Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Adrienne A. White

Second Committee Member

Susan Sullivan

Third Committee Member

Mona Therrien

Additional Committee Members

Kathryn Yerxa


The study objective was to investigate relationships among body mass index (BMI), sleep quality/duration, and perceived stress in 1,176 first semester college students who enrolled in Get Fruved, an 8-state social marketing intervention to prevent unwanted weight gain. Research was limited to first-year college students at-risk for unwanted weight gain. Eligibility was based on self-report of inadequate fruit and vegetable intake and subjects meeting one or more health-risk criteria (e.g., high BMI). Students (mean age=181 years; 65% white) completed physical measurements and an online survey, including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) (score range 0-21; ˃5=disordered sleep) and the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (score range= 0 low to 56 high stress). Mean scores were 24.41 +/- 4.88 kg/m2 (BMI), 5.94 +/- 2.68 (sleep quality), 7.05 +/- 1.29 and 26.35 +/- 6.10 (stress).

Three multiple regression models were utilized to investigate relationships among variables. The first model with BMI as the response and PSQI, gender, and their interaction as predictors was found to be significant over the null model (F(3,1046) = 5.27, p=0.001). There was a significant interaction (β=0.345, t(1046)=3.49, p=0.001) which was in males, as PSQI increased by 1.0 point, mean BMI decreased by 0.19 kg/m2, and in females, as PSQI increased 1.0 point, mean BMI increased by 0.21 kg/m2. Cohen’s f2 for this model was 0.013, indicating very weak effect on BMI.

A second model using BMI as the response and stress, sex, and their interaction as predictors was not found to be significant over the null model (F(3,1045)=0.402, p=0.751). Further investigation using the additive model (with no interaction) was also not significant (F(2,1046)=0.402, p=0.573).

The third model using stress as the response and duration, sex, and their interaction was found to be significant over the null model (F(3, 1064)=22.4, p2=0.062, indicating a weak to moderate effect on stress.

Factors with small effects on weight gain may work synergistically, helping to explain triggers for obesity. Further investigation of these sex differences is needed to explore negative college lifestyle behavior. Sex-specific campus environmental changes may be warranted to support healthful sleep and reduce stress for students, especially for those considered at-risk for unwanted weight gain.

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Nutrition Commons