Stress, Emotional Eating and Food Choices Among University Students During the Covid-19

  • Shi-Hui Cheng School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Nottingham Malaysia
  • Shi Ern Wong 1School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Nottingham Malaysia
Keywords: stress, emotional eating, eating behaviour, university students, Covid-19


The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on stress and eating behaviours. This study aims to determine the relationship between stress, emotional eating, and food choices among university students during the Covid-19. A total of 273 university students participated in this cross-sectional study. Online self-administered questionnaires were used to determine the stress intensity, emotional eating, and eating behaviours. All statistical analyses were performed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Almost half (49.8%) of the participants experienced high stress. In males, the high-stress group consumed sweets or sugars more frequently than the low-stress group (p<0.05). In females, the high-stress group consumed more sweets or sugar and cakes or cookies but less milk products and fresh fruits than the low-stress group (p<0.05). Students with higher negative emotion scores consumed less cooked vegetables (r=-0.133; p<0.05) whereas students with higher positive emotion scores consumed more fast food (r=0.208; p<0.001), sweets or sugar (r=0.139; p<0.05) and cakes or cookies (r=0.139; p<0.05). Body Mass Index (BMI) was positively correlated with negative emotions (r=0.134; p<0.05), negative situations (r=0.161; p<0.01), and total negative Emotional Appetite Questionnaire (EMAQ) scores (r=0.168; p<0.01). In conclusion, Covid-19 brings negative impact on stress. University students shifted food preferences from healthy foods to palatable foods and this could result in adverse health outcomes. Therefore, stress management interventions and nutrition education should be implemented to reduce stress and overcome stress-induced eating behaviour among private university students during the Covid-19.

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How to Cite
Cheng, S.-H. and Wong, S. E. (2021) “Stress, Emotional Eating and Food Choices Among University Students During the Covid-19”, Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (MJSSH), 6(9), pp. 335 - 346. doi: