Irdina Farahani S. 1, Jun Hao L. 2, Zulfitri Azuan MD. 2,3
1Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia
2Department of Dietetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia
3Research Center of Excellent (RCoE) Nutrition and Non-communicable Diseases, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400, Malaysia
Movement Control Order (MCO) during COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant dietary and lifestyle changes to our daily living. However, the impact of MCO on dietary behaviors and lifestyles among Malaysian university students remain unknown. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of disordered eating and its associated factors among university students in UPM during MCO.
This was a retrospective, cross-sectional study conducted among 290 undergraduate students in UPM recruited via virtual snowball sampling method. Disordered eating behaviors, sleep quality and psychological distress were assessed using validated scales: Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and 21-item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21), respectively. Meanwhile, self-developed questionnaires adopted from previous studies were used to gauge social media usage and fear of COVID-19. Factors associated with disordered eating were determined using chi-square test and independent t-test.
Results & Discussion
The prevalence of disordered eating among UPM undergraduate students during MCO was about 25.5%, with a greater proportion observed in Malay (p=0.024), non-science students (p=0.003), heavy users of Twitter (p=0.049), and those who had greater levels of depression (p=0.006), anxiety (p=0.006), stress (p=0.039) and sleep disturbance (p=0.035). However, no significant associations (all p > 0.05) were found between disordered eating behavior with age, gender, place of living during MCO, monthly pocket money, usage of different social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, Youtube & Tiktok), other components of sleep quality (i.e., subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, use of sleeping medication, daytime dysfunction) and fear of COVID-19.
Disordered eating during MCO is prevalence among undergraduate students in UPM. Prevention and intervention strategies including the emphasis of mindful eating and mental health support are essential to address this issue.