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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Debra Schutte


Background: College young adults, within the defining parameters of emerging adulthood, are in a high-risk period for increased susceptibility to binge eating. Limited published research has comprehensively investigated relationships between appetite response to obesogenic college environments and individual risk factors that predict binge eating among an urban college population.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine correlates and predictors of binge eating behavior among college students and the associated outcomes of Body Mass Index (BMI), abdominal obesity, and clinical impairment.

Theoretical Framework: The Transactional Theory of Stress and Coping was used to guide the study.

Methodology: A descriptive, correlational, cross-sectional design was utilized. Measures were Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 screening (GAD-7), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ), Power of Food Scale (PFS), Palatable Eating Motives Scale (PEMS) Binge Eating Scale (BES), Questionnaire on Eating and Weight Patterns-5 (QEWP-5), and Clinical Impairment Assessment Questionnaire (CIA). Anthropometric measurement of height, weight and waist circumference was collected.

Results: Sample was 130 participants, aged 17-29 years old. The majority of the participants were female, White/Caucasian, living off campus, undergraduates and enrolled full time. Approximately 45% of our sample endorsed moderate to severe binge eating behavior and 52% of the sample were classified as overweight or obese. Multiple regression and correlation statistics were used to examine the relationships between the study variables. Independent t-tests and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to examine group differences. Statistically significant correlations were found between binge eating scores and psychological, behavioral, and appetite response factors. Clinical impairment, coping motive, and food availability were the strongest predictors of binge eating in this study. There was no significant correlation between binge eating scores and Body Mass Index (BMI) and abdominal obesity. There were no significant differences in binge eating scores among men and women. There were significant differences in binge eating scores among ethnicities. Higher scores of night eating and perceived power of food availability were found in college students living off campus. There were significant differences in clinical impairment scores among absent, moderate, and severe binge eating groups.

Conclusion: Prevalence of binge eating is higher in college students than the general population. The greater number of risk correlates did not predict binge eating behavior. Nurses should lobby for health policy and initiatives on college campuses that are connected to psychological, behavioral and appetite response factors that influence health of the college population. A comprehensive and thorough understanding of the predictors and risk factors for obesity-related eating behavior positions the nursing profession to be better equipped to initiate, collaborate, and develop evidence-based interventions accordingly.

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