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The Association of Self-Esteem and Energy Balance and Risk for Disordered Eating and Energy Balance in College Freshmen
AuthorLee, Jessica R.
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Objective: Assess the association between self-esteem (SE) and energy balance (EB) and risk for disordered eating (DE) and EB in college freshmen. In addition, evaluating if a combined low SE and risk for DE are predictive of a negative EB. Method: Fifteen female and five male freshmen students from the University of Nevada, Reno volunteered for the five-day study. On the first appointment day, subjects completed a questionnaire regarding demographics, a 24-hour recall, and body composition analysis and were provided with an accelerometer and physical activity log. Subjects wore the accelerometer and completed the physical activity log over the duration of the study. On the fifth day of the study period, subjects revisited the nutrition laboratory and returned their accelerometer and physical activity log and completed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) questionnaire and the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT) questionnaire. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), t-tests, logistic regression and linear regression were conducted. Results: The study found non-significant differences of means for energy intake (EI), total energy expenditure (TEE) and energy balance (EB) between individuals who were at risk for DE and not at risk for DE (p=0.458; p=0.931; p=0.499, respectively). There were non-significant differences of means for EI, TEE, and EB between individuals with normal self-esteem (SE) and high SE (p=0.198; p=0.181; p=0.091, respectively). For the body mass index (BMI) categories of underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese, there were no significant differences of means for EI, TEE, and EB (p=0.447; p=0.213; p=0.212, respectively). SE and risk for DE did not predict EB when it was expressed as two categories. In the final linear regression model, no significant association was found between low SE and EB. However, those subjects at risk for DE had a significant 1,630 kcalorie greater EB deficit compared to individuals not at risk for DE when holding age, sex, race, and BMI (kg/m2) constant (p=0.080 and p=0.053, respectively). Race also significantly predicted EB in the final linear regression model. Whites were more likely to be in a positive EB than Hispanics (p=0.039). Discussion: Long periods of being in a state of energy imbalance can result in weight gain or weight loss. These findings offer a potential explanation for the average 2 to 7 pound weight gain observed during the freshmen year in college and the role of risk for DE on EB. These results suggest that evaluating psychological factors such as risk for DE may help differentiate who will gain, maintain, or lose weight as a college freshman.