Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Human Nutrition

Degree Name

Master of Science

Thesis Advisor

Jessie Hoffman

Committee Member

Ashley Licata

Committee Member

Hope Lima


Mindfulness, Mindful eating, Perceived stress, Maladaptive eating, Gastrointestinal disorder

Committee Member

Karin Evans


Background: Evidence suggests that in college student populations, stress levels often manifest as maladaptive eating and/or functional gastrointestinal disorders. These conditions can degrade wellbeing and academic performance if not addressed.

Research aim/question(s): The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between students’ perceived stress, their overall mindfulness, and mindful eating patterns. Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and bowel habits were also investigated to determine whether these factors were stress-related or influenced mindfulness behaviors.

Materials and Methods: An online survey was conducted during the 2020-2021 academic year. Demographic information, including smoking, alcohol, and drug use patterns, was gathered in addition to participants completing the validated Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and a non-validated Mindful Eating Self-Assessment (MESA). Descriptive statistics and Pearson correlations were obtained using SPSS.

Results: Statistically significant negative correlations were observed between scores on the PSS and MAAS (r = -0.471, p < 0.01), as well as between the PSS and MESA (r = -0.314, p < 0.01). A significant negative correlation was found between smoking and perceived stress (r = -0.191, p = 0.047). However, no other significant relationships were observed between substance use and stress, mindfulness, or mindful eating. Stress and pain frequency were positively correlated (p = 0.001), but no other significant correlations were found between stress, mindfulness, or mindful eating and GI parameters.

Conclusion: Overall, the observation of an inverse relationship between stress and both mindfulness and mindful eating in college students highlights a need for future studies and mindful eating interventions in this population.