Psychosocial stress has been implicated as a risk factor for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Medical students experience a relatively high level of professional and personal stress, with adverse consequences on academic performance, competency, professionalism, and health. This may result in altered behavior pattern and dietary habit resulting in weight change.
Objective: This study was conducted to determine the prevalence and association between perceived stress and body mass index.
Methods: A Cross sectional study was done on 613 students in a medical college. Standardised PSQ-14 was used to calculate PSSI. Weight and height were measured by standard techniques, BMI was calculated and analysed with perceived stress.
Results: The prevalence of perceived stress was 57.7% and high stress was reported among female and final year students. Academics and curriculum was the most common cause of stress, and positive coping mechanisms were used by the students to relieve stress. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was 13% and 9.5% respectively. There was a strong positive correlation between perceived stress and BMI.
Conclusion: The prevalence of stress was high and a significant association was found between stress and BMI. It is important to identify the sources and symptoms of stress among medical students in order to facilitate early detection and treatment, which can prevent physical and psychological morbidities later in life.