Perceived Stress and Unfavorable Eating Behaviors of Women in Agriculture



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Mental health is a major dilemma among many Americans and citizens of the world. The pressing concern of mental health can be attributed to daily stressors, cultural barriers, unhealthy eating habits, and many more factors that directly affect one’s psychological and physical health. Although there has been a constant increase in the number of women employed within the agriculture industry, there is little to no research as to how their daily and occupational stressors may affect their mental health. This study is aimed to analyze the stress of women in agriculture and the effects of stress on eating behaviors and subsequent health outcomes using structural equations modeling. A survey was created using the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), as well as questions relating to demographics such as ethnicity, marital status, education level, and job satisfaction. As a measure of three eating behavior aspects, the TFEQ measures women’s cognitive restraint, uncontrolled eating, and emotional eating. To measure the perception of stress, the PSS is used to determine the degree to which one’s life situations are appraised as stressful. The survey is distributed via an anonymous link and is posted to agriculture-related social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The survey was also sent to two Agricultural Sciences departments from two universities: Texas A&M University and Sam Houston State University. The survey was aimed toward women involved in any sector within the agriculture industry and had no requirement for age or occupational status (manual, non-manual, unemployed/housewife). This study was v deemed exempt by Sam Houston State University Institutional Review Board (Protocol #: IRB-2021-298). As expected, women who believed that they were negatively impacted by gender inequality relating to income tended to report higher stress levels. The results also showed that perceived stress was positively associated with a higher level of emotional eating, which ultimately leads to higher BMIs (Body Mass Index). A higher stress level was also associated with a higher level of uncontrolled eating, but the pathway from uncontrolled eating to BMIs was not statistically significant. The data suggests that when women are feeling anxious, stressed, or lonely, they tend to look to food for comfort. Because of this, it is recommended that manufacturers provide foods that satisfy both physical and mental health needs.



Agriculture, General