Example Of Research Protocol. Research Proposal
How does exam-stress affect students eating habits?
Aims & rational:
Obesity and overweight continue to be a major risk factor for a number of serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes & cancer. It was considered as a significant problem in high income countries, which has increased dramatically recently in low and middle income countries as well (WHO, 2014). Another major public health problem is that contribute with obesity is modern lifestyle, which generates overconsumption of foods that contain generous amounts of fats & sugars. Those behaviours exceed to obesity and should be understood for prevention efforts (Barrington et al. 2014).
Resent studies showed that stress occurs due to social life circumstances such as; problems at work, interacting with other people, exams & public speaking which forces people to eat more comfort foods; high fat foods that initiate people to binge eating (ref). Stress can be considered as a highly common disorder that have a relationship with food consumption, which can be regarded with the increase and decrease of food consumption (Roohafza et al. 2013). People respond to stress differently, where some personalities eat more and others eat less in response to stress; this relates to the environment around the individual which may arise the level of stress due to the overwhelming situation. Therefore, human body response to this change by producing hormones which suppresses or increases appetite to maintain allostasis for short term (Cohen et al. 2007). Examination can be a reason for increasing stress particularly among students which have an impact on the eating habit of the students specially those who are in college/university; pressure during examination period, not having enough time to cook or go and buy grocery. This might contribute with the change of students eating habit; along with other alteration could take place in their body such as: headaches, dizziness, increasing in heart rate & difficulty in sleeping or waking up in the morning (ref). However, it is logical to use food diary to gain an insight of what students consume during the required period and to develop an understanding the change in eating habit of female Nutrition students at Bournemouth University, England.
Critically incorporate literature to obtain literature review.
Bringing out the food intake changes before and during examination period and distinguishes the difference between both periods for Nutrition-female students through the use of food diaries.
Drawing conclusions and recommendations from findings.
Stress is one of high common diseases that can be presented in our daily life which has a serious effect on our performance and development; long time stress & severe stress may affect the function of the human body by direct and indirect behavior changes. One of these behavior changes is changing in the individuals’ food choice, which may affect the health as a result of the change in diet and in appetite (ref). Stress has been related with both the decrease and the increase of dietary intake; due to the biological changes that occur in the human body, it was expected to decrease food consumption and delay in the gastric empty (ref). Another behavioral change may happen is leading toward consuming high-energy foods, high sugar foods and some individuals may develop hyperphagia (ref).
Usually the number of meals you have a day varies a lot during stress. What is interesting, different people have this change manifests itself in different ways. We eat too quickly and think about our stress, not noticing the moment when you need to stop eating. As a result, we earn ourselves binge eating. During our exam-stress we are so afraid of our problems that we subconsciously try all methods to create a sense of security and satiety and that as a rule, creates the illusion of comfort and tranquility. That's why we strive to eat more, just to create the illusion of security itself. Sounds silly, but the way it looks it’s not. In reality, we are not aware of these connections, otherwise you would have realized the stupidity of the situation. All of these processes impact of stress on the power triggered in our subconscious, which is slightly lower.
Seizing stress can be caused by the increased energy needs of the body in stressful situations. Again, it all depends on the emotional response to our problems. Infinitely scrolling thumb and in our mind all sorts of problems and situations in life, we are quite unconsciously wasted on these mental throwing our energy, that the body needs more food. Of course, this need not be balanced increase in physical activity, which are deposited as a result of the extra pounds.
Food choices and eating behaviors are related to the individuals; culture, age, gender, education, hormones, dietary intention and psychological nature (ref). Number of evidence had shown that food has an effect on our feelings; foods can associate with the reduction of anger and the enhancement of mood is particularly related with rich-carbohydrate foods (ref) . But on other studies, the outcome do not support this evidence by showing that food intake do not affect the level of stress (ref).
In this study, it is assumed that students will tend to consume more foods contain high levels of saturated fats while the consumption of unsaturated fats will decrease during exam period. Foods such as: pies, pizza, hamburgers, white bread, sugar flavored milk drinks, beer, and etc. Meanwhile other foods such as: meat, fish, fruits & vegetables were eaten less during the same period (ref). This assumption based on previous studies such as (ref) which showed a group of people who were under high stress level tended to consume saturated fatty acids were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. However, the paper will compare two periods to notice which food groups were eaten more or less.
Food diary is a detailed method to undertake food weighed and recording food and drink details at the time it was consumed. This assessment method is used to track changes that might occur in a population. Food assessment is commonly used in the United Kingdom in national surveys for evaluating diary intake (ref). The period of time that is commonly most required is seven days which decrease the bias of the test by recording all days of the week due to the foods that are not consumed frequently. However, preforming longer or shorter periods depends on the purpose of the test conducted (ref).
The use of food diary is beneficial in recording detailed and quantified measurements of food intake; meaning all foods and drinks that are consumed as well as non-food items, for instance: alcohol, water and dietary supplements which result in data that can be relatively accurate (ref). The collected data on the 7 days period of weighed records, nutrient information, meal & eating frequency are considered as the best data which can be used for arguments (Bingham, 1997). Although this method can be useful for nutrition education, several weaknesses were found;
Research design - Quantitative research:
Quantitative data – is a data which the main goal is to describe the type of information, which can be collected and expressed in numbers. This type of data is usually analysed and collected with the help of experiments or other type of observations. This type of data are usually presented graphs or tables.
For our research we are going to make a survey asking to provide how much weight did the student gain or lose during his exams, or did he or she has any problems with health now. How many meals did they have per day and did it change after the stress was gone. After we collect the information we can analyse the information and tell how many percent of people had struggled with eating disorders and if they do now.
Participants and setting:
Second year University students all females who are studying Nutrition course at Bournemouth University, age between 20- 30 healthy and all in average weight. Females therefore variable of gender does not need to be considered at this research. The food diary will be asked to record twice, before and during the exams period in order to observe the differences in eating habits and discus the changes that had been occurred to their usual diet for (3- 7 days). Students’ identity will be known to track them and to know each student diary to put both diaries together for reliability. Unclear handwriting can be identified and corrected.
Instrumentation: A food diary will be used and will be checked by .. for construct validity.
The food diary will be in a form of table, which will be asked to complete for the required period. Students will be asked to fill each column of the table given which are time, portion size with unit measured, type of food eaten, and amount of protein, carbs & fat contained (calorie if possible).
Procedure: researcher will deliver food diary tables to the students and then will be distributed and asked for completion in the pre-exam period. The researcher will deliver another new sheets of paper with same table and asked to record their food diary again but during exam period this time. On the top of the table, a brief description and some instructions will be outlined. Researcher will be directed to underline to students the importance of recording honest & clear data. Students will be told that participating in the study is voluntary. They will be told to write their names on the top of their diary to track them for the second phase of the study. They will be asked if they are welling to complete both phases beforehand due to the pressure they might face in recording data during exams period. Researcher will collect food diaries at the end of the period required in both phases.
Data analysis: microdiet programme - a data analysis program called SPSS will carry out the data analysis. RNI reference nutrient intake. SPSS programme will help the student make a diet programme and keep up with everything they need. Rather it can be a certain missing element which organism require, you just look for information and it will tell you what product to eat, to make this feeling go away, instead of breaking the point when you begin eating everything in large amounts or quantities.
Micro diet programme can contain a detailed information about the type of food that supposed to be taken servings and portions, which needed to be taken to get energy for studying.
Barrington, W., Beresford, S., McGregor, B. and White, E. 2014. Perceived Stress and Eating Behaviors by Sex, Obesity Status, and Stress Vulnerability: Findings from the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 114(11), 1791-1799.
Bingham, S. 1997. Validation of dietary assessment methods in the UK arm of EPIC using weighed records, and 24-hour urinary nitrogen and potassium and serum vitamin C and carotenoids as biomarkers. International Journal of Epidemiology. 26(90001), 137S-151.
Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D. and E. Miller, G. 2007. Psychological Stress and Disease. JAMA. [online] 298(14), pp.1685-1687.
[Accessed 30 Dec. 2014].
Roohafza, H., Sarrafzadegan, N., Sadeghi, M., Rafieian-Kopaei, M., Sajjadi, F., & Khosravi-Boroujeni, H. 2013. The Association between Stress Levels and Food Consumption among Iranian Population. Archives of Iranian Medicine (AIM), 16(3).
WHO, 2014. WHO | Obesity. [online]
[Accessed 28 Dec. 2014].