The Effects of BMI and Psychosocial Stress on Inflammation in College Students Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • February 26, 2019
  • Owens, Caroline
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • Objectives: To characterize experiences with stress reported by undergraduate and graduate students and to investigate associations between levels of psychosocial stress, BMI, and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels among this population.Methods: For this study, a total of 98 undergraduate, graduate, or professional students participated through convenience sampling at flu-shot clinics held by the university during the fall semesters. Participants provided perceived stress scores (n=75), a free list of five sources of daily stress, and a blood spot for CRP levels. BMI was calculated as weight (kg)/ height (m2) from measures of height and weight. Levels of psychosocial stress and BMI were examined in relation to CRP using linear regression analysis. Sources of stress were coded and examined in relation to sex and levels of perceived stress. Results: There were no differences in mean levels of perceived stress between men and women in our study. Several codes emerged as prevalent sources of stress among the overall sample, including: school, relationships, time management, health and wellness, and the future. Different frequencies of sources of stress emerged when stratified by sex and by PSS-10 categorization. There were statistically significant differences in mean CRP between male and female students in our study. There were no associations found between CRP and PSS or BMI in men; however, the association between CRP and BMI in women was statistically significant. Conclusion: This cross-sectional study utilized mixed-methods analysis in order to examine differential levels and sources of stress among college students. Additionally, this study demonstrated a significant association between BMI and CRP in female students. Future research should consider a longitudinal design over the course of the college experience, and may incorporate more qualitative methods when examining students’ experiences with stress.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Funding: Tom and Elizabeth Long Excellence Fund for Honors
  • Sorensen, Mark
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Anthropology
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
  • English

This work has no parents.