The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic worsened financial stress for higher education students in the U.S. Financial stress is associated with poor dietary behaviors; however, factors that might influence this relationship are not well characterized. The present cross-sectional study investigated the associations between financial stress and dietary intake and dietary risk scores among higher education students (undergraduate and graduate students) in the U.S. and examined whether poor sleep quality and short sleep duration mediated the relationship between financial stress and dietary risk score. Validated tools were used to assess financial stress, sleep quality, sleep duration, dietary intake, and dietary risk. A total of 1280 students from three large U.S. universities completed the study. Results indicated that higher financial stress was associated with lower vegetable, fruit, fiber, and calcium intake, higher added sugar intake from sugar sweetened beverages, and higher dietary risk score. Further, the positive relationship between financial stress and dietary risk score was completely mediated by poor sleep quality among students who reported poor sleep quality and by short sleep duration among students who slept less than 7 h per night. These findings suggest that students might benefit from both financial management training and sleep education services to reduce undesirable dietary behaviors.
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Du, Chen; Wang, Wenyan; Hsiao, Pao Ying; Ludy, Mary-Jon; and Tucker, Robin M., "Insufficient Sleep and Poor Sleep Quality Completely Mediate the Relationship between Financial Stress and Dietary Risk among Higher Education Students" (2021). Public and Allied Health Faculty Publications. 2.