Everyday discrimination is a stronger predictor of eating competence than food insecurity or perceived stress in college students amidst COVID-19


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Stress is a common experience of college students, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Perceived stress may help predict students' eating behaviors. Eating competence is an adaptive model of eating characterized as being flexible, comfortable, and positive with food and eating, and reliable about getting enough nourishing and enjoyable food to eat. Eating competence is associated with numerous health benefits and may be developing and/or disrupted as young adults transition to college. No prior research has explored the associations of everyday discrimination and food insecurity with eating competence, and there is limited research on the eating competence of trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) college students. This cross-sectional study sought to examine the associations of everyday discrimination, food insecurity, and perceived stress with eating compe-tence in a sample of 1996 undergraduate students. Participants completed an online survey comprised of vali-dated tools assessing socio-demographics, eating competence, everyday discrimination, food insecurity, and perceived stress and stress management. After accounting for covariates (gender, stress management), multi-variate regression analyses were conducted, and the coefficients of partial determination revealed that everyday discrimination was the strongest predictor of eating competence. Results demonstrated that lower experience of everyday discrimination, less stress, and being food secure were associated with greater likelihood of being eating competent (EC). Men were more likely to be EC than women or TGNC identities. Since the experience of everyday discrimination was the strongest, inverse predictor of eating competence, addressing discrimination must be considered in future efforts to improve eating competence.
Eating behaviors, Young adult, Social discrimination, Perceived stress, Pandemic
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