Association of anthropometric status, perceived stress, and personality traits with eating behavior in university students

  • Kumiko OharaEmail author
  • Tomoki Mase
  • Katsuyasu Kouda
  • Chiemi Miyawaki
  • Katsumasa Momoi
  • Tomoko Fujitani
  • Yuki Fujita
  • Harunobu Nakamura
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Personality and Eating and Weight disorders



We investigated the association of anthropometric status, perceived stress, and personality traits with eating behavior in university students.


The participants, 1546 Japanese university students (964 males, 582 females), completed a questionnaire which asked for their current height and weight, ideal height and weight, eating behaviors, perceived stress, and personality traits.


Restrained eating was higher in normal-weight participants compared with underweight participants in both males and females (p < 0.001, both males and females). Restrained eating in normal-weight males was significantly lower in normal-weight females (p < 0.001). In addition, normal-weight males reported less stress than normal-weight females (anxiety/uncertainty, p = 0.037; tiredness/physical responses, p < 0.001; autonomic symptoms, p < 0.001; depression/feeling, p < 0.001) and underweight males (tiredness/physical responses, p = 0.018; autonomic symptoms, p = 0.001). Moreover, among normal-weight males, neuroticism was significantly lower compared with normal-weight females (p < 0.001). In multiple regression analysis, male participants revealed positive association between restrained eating and body mass index (β = 0.199, p < 0.001) or body mass index difference (β = − 0.170, p = 0.001). In contrast, female revealed more significant associations between emotional and external eating and perceived stress or personality traits compared with males.


These results indicate that associations between eating behavior and anthropometric status or psychological factors are different by each eating behavior, which is partly influenced by gender difference.

Level of evidence

V, cross-sectional descriptive study.


Eating behavior Anthropometric status Stress Personality Students Gender difference 



The fragment of the research study presented in this article was supported by Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows no. 13J02216.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no potential conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Human Ethics Committee of the Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Human Development and EnvironmentKobe UniversityKobeJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Human Development and EducationKyoto Women’s UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Hygiene and Public HealthKansai Medical UniversityHirakataJapan
  4. 4.Research Field in Education, Education, Law, Economics and the Humanities AreaKagoshima UniversityKagoshimaJapan
  5. 5.Faculty of Health and WelfareTokushima Bunri UniversityTokushimaJapan
  6. 6.Department of Public HealthKindai University Faculty of MedicineOsaka-SayamaJapan

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