Date of Graduation


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Committee Chair

Janet Tou

Committee Co-Chair


Committee Member



To investigate the relationship between dietary quality and mental health status of young adults in an Appalachia college setting we 1) assessed the overall dietary quality of students 2) assessed the frequency of depression and anxiety symptoms of students and 3) assessed the relationship between these factors and food insecurity of students. A cross-sectional design was used in a large, Appalachian college population in fall 2017. Survey items included the Dietary Screener Questionnaire (DSQ), experience of depression or anxiety symptoms over the past 30 days, and the US Adult Food Security Survey Module, demographic variables and BMI. Participant responses (n=1956) showed students' mean number of depressed days over the past 30 days was 9.67  8.80, and of anxious days, 14.1  10.03. The mean fruit and vegetable intake was 1.80  1.27 and the mean added sugars intake was 1.79  1.26. 36.7% of students were found to be food insecure. Logistic regression showed that fruit and vegetable intake [odds ratio (OR)=.71 95% CI .54-.92] was a significant predictor of high number of depressed days in males, and in females, food insecurity was a significant predictor [OR=2.19 95% CI 1.63-2.97]. Food insecurity was a significant predictor for high number of anxious days in males [OR=2.12 95% CI 1.35-3.36] and in females, added sugars intake and food insecurity were significant predictors [OR=1.15 95% CI 1.02- 1.29 and OR=1.52 95% CI 1.16-2.01, respectively]. These findings suggest that improving the dietary quality of college students through increased access to healthy foods could improve the mental health and well-being of students.