COMPARABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF BIOLOGICALLY DRIVEN EATING BEHAVIOR IN DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS OF MEDICAL STUDENTS
Introduction: Eating behavior is one of the key factors which may lead to eating disorders, including obesity and metabolic diseases. It is different among ethnically and socio-culturally diverse groups and strongly related to the influence of various factors, including the contribution of environment and lifestyle, especially for young people.
Aim: To examine the lifestyle-related eating behavior pattern of foreign medical students from Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University (LNMU, Ukraine) in the different ethnic groups.
Methods: The study group includes 209 respondents who are foreign students (aged 17 to 28) who studied in LNMU while residing in dormitories or rented apartments. Participants were surveyed using the English version of the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire DEBQ (Van Strien et al., 2002) and additional original questions about nutritional interventions for healthy food habits. BMI was calculated based on self-reported height and weight. Statistical analysis with JAMOVI provided Cronbach’s α coefficient analysis.
Results: Ethnic groups involved in the study were: African – 16.1%, Asian – 39.2%, European – 41.4%, Hispanic – 1.4%, Mixed – 1.9%.
According to the 1st section, eating pattern changes, if the food smells, looks and tastes good, and 54% of total participants (TPs) tend to eat more than they planned; 68.9% will have the desire to eat even if they are not hungry, and 53.2% will eat immediately after they purchase these foods. Obtained data in the 2nd section (emotional eating) has shown that the influence of negative emotions and states like feeling depressed was present in 42.1% of TPs, lonely – 51.4%, anxious, sad, overwhelmed – 30.7% when participants tend to overeat. The 3d section concerns the tendency for external eating. 64.6% of participants tend to overeat during meetings with friends, and 67.5% choose to give food as a gift when they go on a visit. 46.4% of participants tend to overeat on holidays, vacations, hiking trips. The 4th section is about nutritional interventions – 69.3% of TPs eat less than usual, try to avoid snacks; 56.0% of participants choose their food intentionally, are mindful of consumed calories if they want to lose weight; 52.6% choose to eat less during the day if they consumed too many calories the day before.
Conclusion: Taken together with the results from different ethnic groups, the association between the emotional condition and eating behavior differed depending on the ethnicity. Most of the participants know about principles of healthy eating, but they also realize that their eating behavior changes to adapt to current lifestyle factors, like gender, chronic stress, demanding academic learning, sedentary lifestyle, and macro-social factors.
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