Knowledge, Motivations, and Behaviors Regarding Eating a Healthy Diet and Physical Activity in Relation to Self-Esteem in College Students
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The current study hypothesized that college student’s knowledge, motivations, and behaviors regarding eating and exercising would be positively correlated to their self-esteem. A sample of 268 college students, 93 males and 175 females, completed a 98 item questionnaire that surveyed their knowledge of eating and exercise recommendations, their eating and exercise motives, their eating and exercise behaviors, and their self-esteem. Correlation and regression analyses were performed to identify the relations among knowledge of physical activity and nutrition, physical activity behavior, healthy eating behavior, exercise and food choice motivations, and self-esteem. Overall nutritional and physical activity knowledge was positively correlated to healthy eating behaviors (r=.21, p<0.01), but was not significantly correlated with physical activity behaviors (r=.05, p<0.05). Positive correlations were found between overall knowledge and the exercise motives based on weight control, fitness, health, and tone, as well as the food choice motives of health and weight control. Self-esteem was positively correlated with overall nutrition and physical activity knowledge (r=.14, p<0.05), healthy eating behaviors (r=.16, p<0.05), and healthy exercise behaviors (r=.22, p<0.01). Self-esteem was positively correlated with the exercise motives of fitness and health and the food choice motives of health and natural content and negatively correlated to the food choice motives of mood, familiarity, and ethical concern. Physical activity was positively correlated with the exercise motives of fitness and health. Physical activity was also positively correlated with healthy eating behaviors (r= .26, p<0.01).