Comparison of Eating Competence in College Students with and without Food Allergies


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Objective: To examine differences in eating competence (EC) between college students (18-24 years) with and without food allergies (FA) Methods: Data were collected between 2015-21 from the ongoing, cross-sectional College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey. All participants (n = 2905, 64.5% female) were recruited from a large, public New England university and completed an online survey that included items related to health history, as well as the 16-item Eating Competence Satter Inventory (ecSI 2.0™). Total ecSI scores (0-48), as well as subscores (Eating Attitudes, Food Acceptance, Internal Regulation, and Contextual Skills), were tabulated; EC was defined as scores ≥32. Differences in total ecSI and subscale scores between students with and without FA were examined via ANCOVA, with age, sex, and body mass index as covariates. Chi square was used to assess whether there was a difference in percentage of students who classified as EC between those with and without FA. All analyses were conducted via SPSS (p<.05). Results: In the final sample (n = 2905), 10.6% reported a FA and 59.5% were classified as EC. Total ecSI scores between students with and without FA was similar (32.3±9.3 vs. 33.4±8.8, p=0.17). Further, similar proportions of students with and without FA were classified as EC (56.4 vs. 59.9%, p=.26). Mean subscale score for Eating Attitudes (0-15) was lower in students with vs. without FA (10.4±3.5 vs. 11.0±3.3, p=0.005); no other differences in ecSI subscores were observed (p>.05). Conclusions: While eating competence did not differ between college students with or without FA, findings suggest students with FA may have lower eating attitudes. More research from diverse populations will better elucidate the relationship between food allergies and eating competence in college students. Tailored solutions toward increasing eating competence among college students can support healthier eating patterns regardless of food allergy status. Funding Sources: New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project 1010738


First Name Last Name
Jesse Stabile Morrell
Julia Melius

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Submission Details

Conference GRC
Event Graduate Research Conference
Department Nutritional Sciences (GRC)
Group Poster Presentation
Added May 4, 2022, 12:40 p.m.
Updated May 4, 2022, 12:41 p.m.
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