Objective. To determine the relationship between overall psychological well-being and stress on diet quality among young adult women and to examine the potential confounding influence of season, physical activity and sleep on these relationships. Design/Participants. The study used a cross-sectional design. Three hundred and fifty-one women were recruited to participate in the study. All participants were university students (20.2 ± 1.6 y). Overall psychological well-being was assessed using the General Well-being Schedule (GWB) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Diet intake was measured using three 24-hour recalls over a seven day period. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) was calculated to assess diet quality. Physical activity (PA) and sleep were both measured objectively using accelerometers over seven consecutive days. Season of assessment was also included as a covariate. Results. The average HEI score was 59.3 ± 12.5 out of 100 and is classified as "Needs Improvement." The average GWB score was 72.8 ± 13.1 out of 110 which is on the border between "moderate distress" (61 to 72) and "positive wellbeing" (73 to 110). Significant relationships were seen with specific aspects of psychological well-being, however global psychological well-being as measured by the General Well-being schedule was not related to any measure of diet quality. Chronic stress was related to low adherence to dietary guidelines (F = 11.46 and p = 0.0008). Chronic stress was also related to low consumption of fruits and vegetables (F = 5.03, p = 0.0256). Feeling in control of emotions and behaviors was related to low consumption of non-nutrient dense foods (NNDF) (F = 3.33, p = 0.0198). Controlling for PA and sleep time reduced the magnitude of all of these relationships between 11% and 42%. Results from the PSS were positively related to the consumption of NNDF (F = 3.97, p = 0.0472). Controlling for PA and sleep time increased the magnitude of this relationship by 34%. Season had a negligible impact on any of the relationships between psychological well-being and any measure of diet quality. Conclusion. Subscales of psychological well-being such as chronic stress, acute stress, emotional behavioral control, and depression were related to diet quality. While these observed relationships were independent of the influence of season, physical activity and sleep, controlling for these variables had a moderating effect.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Exercise Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





dietary quality, non-nutrient dense food, college, HEI, women, psychological well-being, depression, stress, physical activity, sleep