Document Type


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Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Animal and Nutritional Sciences


Young adults in Appalachia may face poor nutritional status due to low access to healthy food and high mental health symptoms attributed to high stress and the college environment. A cross-sectional design was used to investigate the relationship between diet intake and mental health status of this population via surveys. 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 times per day and the mean added sugars intake was 1.79 ± 1.26 times per day. 36.7% of students were found to be food insecure. One-way ANOVA and Chi-Squared analyses were used to determine relationship between variables. Significant variables were placed into a full logistic regression model. Food insecurity and fruit and vegetable intake remained significant predictors of depression in males (odds ratio (OR) = 2.33 95% CI 1.47–3.71 and OR = 68 95% CI 50–89, respectively) and in females food insecurity remained a significant predictor of depression (OR = 2.26 95% CI 1.67–3.07). Food insecurity and added sugars intake were significant predictor of anxiety in males (OR = 2.33 95% CI 1.47–3.71 and OR = 1.09 95% CI 0.91–1.3, respectively) and for anxiety in females, added sugars intake and food insecurity were significant predictors (OR = 1.18 95% CI 1.05–1.32 and OR = 1.65 95% CI 1.27–2.16, respectively). Improving college student’s diet intake through increased access to healthy foods could improve the mental health and well-being of students.

Source Citation

Wattick, R., Hagedorn, R., & Olfert, M. (2018). Relationship between Diet and Mental Health in a Young Adult Appalachian College Population. Nutrients, 10(8), 957.


  1. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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