Main content area

Snacking and Diet Quality Are Associated With the Coping Strategies Used By a Socioeconomically Diverse Urban Cohort of African-American and White Adults

Fanelli Kuczmarski, Marie, Cotugna, Nancy, Pohlig, Ryan T., Beydoun, May A., Adams, Erica L., Evans, Michele K., Zonderman, Alan B.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2017 v.117 no.9 pp. 1355-1365
African Americans, USDA, adults, coping strategies, eating habits, energy intake, health behavior, health care workers, healthy diet, inventories, literacy, longevity, nutritional adequacy, quality of life, regression analysis, snacks, socioeconomic status
Stress affects health-related quality of life through several pathways, including physiological processes and health behaviors. There is always a relationship between stress (the stimulus) and coping (the response). The relationship between snacking and snackers’ diet quality and stress coping is a topic overlooked in research.The study was primarily designed to determine whether energy provided by snacks and diet quality were associated with coping behaviors to manage stress.We analyzed a baseline cohort of the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span study (2004 to 2009).The sample was composed of 2,177 socioeconomically diverse African-American and white adults who resided in Baltimore, MD.Energy from snacks was calculated from 2 days of 24-hour dietary recalls collected using the US Department of Agriculture’s Automated Multiple Pass Method. Snack occasions were self-reported as distinct eating occasions. Diet quality was evaluated by the Healthy Eating Index-2010.Multiple regression analyses were used to determine whether coping factors were associated with either energy provided by snacks or Healthy Eating Index-2010, adjusting for age, sex, race, socioeconomic status, education, literacy, and perceived stress. Coping was measured by the Brief COPE Inventory with instrument variables categorized into three factors: problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping, and use of support. Perceived stress was measured with the 4-item Perceived Stress Scale.Adjusting for perceived stress and selected demographic characteristics, emotion-focused coping strategies were associated with greater energy intakes from snacks (P=0.020), and use of coping strategies involving support was positively associated with better diet quality (P=0.009).Energy contributed by snacks and diet quality were affected by the strategy that an individual used to cope with stress. The findings suggest that health professionals working with individuals seeking guidance to modify their eating practices should assess a person’s coping strategies to manage stress.