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Publication Date


First Advisor

Lisa M. Troy

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Biological Sciences


Stress, Diet, Chronic stress, Nutrition, College students, Long term stress, Hair cortisol


Chronic stress may cause adverse health outcomes such as increased adiposity in humans. As an objective marker of chronic stress, elevated cortisol concentrations have been associated with unhealthy food intake and an increased drive for hunger. In this study we investigate associations between hair cortisol concentration, diet quality and body composition among college students. Hair cortisol was extracted from participants (n=106) in the UMass Healthy Campus Study (UMHCS) conducted among first-year UMass Amherst students to evaluate diet and health parameters. Body composition was determined by waist circumference (WC), visceral adipose tissue measurements (VAT) and body mass index (BMI). VAT was determined by Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (iDXA), while height and weight were used to calculate BMI. Diet quality and dietary patterns were examined though the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) along with a Dietary Guidelines for Americans Adherence Index 2015 based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. These were evaluated using linear regression analyses, adjusted for sex, BMI, hair length, hair wash, total energy intake and steroid use. Participants in the UMHCS were 78.54% women, with a mean BMI of 22.9 kg/m2 ± 4.0 (women: 23.0, men: 23.3) mean WC 78.1cm ± 9.4, (women: 77.1cm, men: 81.3 cm). Linear regression analysis did not uncover any significant associations.


©2019 Insia Naqvi. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




iii, 54 pages : illustrations. Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-54)