A comparison of the eating patterns among different college majors at Northern Illinois University
Lennon, Judy D.
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This study compared the disordered eating attitudes and patterns of dietetic majors with students of other majors in six undergraduate classes at Northern Illinois University. A total of 60 dietetic students from three dietetic major classes were compared to 98 students of other majors from three non-major classes. The three nonmajor classes were communications, counseling and elementary education. Subjects included male and female students and class status ranged from sophomore to graduate level. All participants in this research study were surveyed using the Modified EAT-26 survey to screen for disordered eating. A total Modified EAT-26 score and the 3 subscale scores of dieting, bulimia and food preoccupation and oral control were used to compare the two groups of students. In addition to students’ major, the following factors were assessed for significant association with students’ eating behaviors: age, gender, year in school, weight, height, BMI, ethnic origin or race, being vegetarian, and having an eating disorder as self-perceived, perceived by others, or diagnosed. Analysis of covariance EAT-26 scores with age as covariate revealed that age was not a factor in the significant effect of majors, dietetic majors having higher scores. Applications of ANOVA showed that factors of year in school and ethnic origin or race did not make a significant difference in total Modified EAT-26 scores. However, an ANOVA showed that students being vegetarian was significantly related to their total Modified EAT-26 scores. Results of ANOVA revealed that EAT-26 scores differed significantly among students who did or did not report self-perceived, perceived by others, or diagnosed of an eating disorder. A comparison of BMI between the two groups of majors did not reveal a significant difference. Further research is needed to understand what influences the differences among dietetic majors and students of other majors. A more detailed investigation along with a larger sample of dietetic majors and non-majors from several school campuses would be helpful. In addition, a more ethnically/racially diverse population would be advantageous.