Perceived stress and its relationship with the body composition of undergraduate students of a medical college in Nigeria.
Background: Stress among medical undergraduates has been reported to be on the increase with subsequent tendency towards obesity. However, the association between perceived stress and body composition has yet to be determined.
Objective: This cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine the relationship between perceived stress and body composition among undergraduates of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Methods: Three hundred and twenty-nine apparently healthy undergraduates (165 males and 164 females) with ages between 17 to 35 years participated in the study. Physical characteristics such as weight, height, body mass index (BMI), and body composition indices were measured using standard procedures. Questionnaires were administered to assess the levels of perceived stress of the participants. The data were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient analysis.
Results: The mean stress level was low (27.33 ± 10.60). There were significant relationships between the body composition indices and perceived stress with visceral fat having the strongest relationship (p = 0.004) while BMI had the least correlation (p = 0.037). There were also significant relationships between age, gender and body composition indices. The percentage muscle mass, visceral fat, and body fat had significant relationships with the gender of the participants.
Conclusion: Visceral fat, BMI, and percentage muscle mass increased with an increase in perceived stress level, and females had a lower level of perceived stress than males.
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