- Li Jiang, Lawrence J. Cheskin, Cara L. Frankenfeld, Ziaul H. Rana, Lilian de Jonge. Loneliness is associated with unhealthful dietary behaviors and physical inactivity among US college students. Journal of American College Health, 2022; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2022.2141060
With data from the Mason: Health Starts Here cohort study, Master of Nutrition alum Li Jiang found that loneliness was related to altered diet quality and physical inactivity. The research was done as part of Jiang’s master’s thesis, and Mason Nutrition and Food Studies Department Chair Lawrence J. Cheskin, Associate Professor Lilian de Jonge, former faculty member Cara Frankenfeld, and former postdoctoral fellow Ziaul H. Rana also contributed to the project.
“Our study supports a potential need for further research in understanding unhealthful dietary behavior and physical activity which may be related to loneliness, an emotion that impacts many college students,” says Jiang.
Sedentary (19.2%) and low active (53.8%) behaviors were more frequent in students reporting high loneliness (score ranges of 4-6 and 7-9) than those reporting low loneliness (score of 10-12). Students reporting more loneliness had higher fat diets than students reporting less loneliness.
“Interventions to reduce loneliness may have a positive effect on health promotion in this population. This data go along with other initial findings from the Health Starts Here study that college students are not meeting healthy dietary guidelines or getting enough physical activity,” said Cheskin, who has an MD.
The study is a cross-sectional study that analyzed baseline data collected in the first wave of Mason: Health Start Here in 2019, and was funded by George Mason University’s Institute for BioHealth Innovation.
“Loneliness is associated with unhealthful dietary behaviors and physical inactivity among US college students,” was published in November 2022 in the Journal of American College Health.
Mason: Health Starts Here is a first-of-its-kind transdisciplinary student cohort study to understand and improve the health and well-being of university students. This research will follow a broad sample of young adults, specifically Mason students, over time to capture the diversity of their experiences in college and how it affects their health and well-being.
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Loneliness associated with unhealthful diets and physical inactivity among US college students
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