Topical Area: Nutrition Education and Behavioral Science
(P20-052-20) Eating Competence of Sexual Minority College Students
Objectives: To assess differences in eating competence between sexual minority and heterosexual college students, 18-24 years old, at a public, New England university.
Methods: Data were collected between 2015-18 from the College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey, an ongoing, cross-sectional study. Participants (n=1984) completed the Eating Competence Satter Inventory (ecSI 2.0™) and self-reported their sexual orientation as part of an online questionnaire. Possible ecSI scores range from 0-48, with eating competence defined as ≥32. Mean differences in ecSI scores between heterosexual (96.5%) and sexual minority (3.5% gay or lesbian, bisexual, or other) students were evaluated via ANCOVA, using gender, dining hall usage, and BMI as covariates.
Results: Heterosexual students tended to have a higher mean ecSI score vs. students who identify as a sexual minority (33.5±0.2 vs. 31.5±1.1, p=.06) and tended to be considered eating competent compared to sexual minority students (60% vs 50%, p=.10). Mean subscale scores for Eating Attitudes (0-15) and Contextual Skills (0-12) were higher in heterosexual vs. sexual minority students (13.3±0.09 vs. 12.2±0.47, p< .02 and 10.7±0.07 vs. 9.8±0.40, p< .05 respectively).
Conclusions: In this sample of college students, eating competence tended to be lower among sexual minority students compared to heterosexual students. Further research from diverse campuses will help college educators and health professionals appropriately target nutrition education and support for a diverse student body.
Funding Sources: New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Stations and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project 1010738
Student University of New Hampshire Dover, New Hampshire
Jesse S. Morrell
Principal Lecturer University of New Hampshire Durham, New Hampshire