Journal List > Korean J Community Nutr > v.18(6) > 1038442

Kang and Lee: Menstruation and the Variability of Food Intake in Female College Students


This study aimed to elicit the variability of appetite and food intake patterns in female college students during different menstrual phases. The craving for certain foods and physiological and psychological symptoms of menstrual phase (pre- and post-menstrual) were investigated by self-administered questionnaire. Three hundred and sixty six students who were 20.9 years old and had 19.8 kg/m2 of BMI volunteered to participate in this study. Most of the subjects (89.5%) experienced the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as irritation, bodily fatigue, nervosity. Symptoms such as tiredness, stomachache, changes in taste and increased appetite were pointed out to be experienced at the onset of the menstrual cycle. The variability of food intake in premenstrual phase, 11.0% of subjects had decreased food intake where as 68.8% had experienced increased intake. The postmenstrual phase, 20.1% had decreased food intake while 45.2% had experienced increased intake due to changes in the appetite. Before starting menstruation, most of the subjects craved for sweets. The group who had experienced abnormal appetite during menstrual phase was significantly high ratio in overweight and obese students (p < 0.05). We also observed an association between the PMS score and the variability of eating patterns during the menstrual phase. The students who experienced changing appetite and food intake had significantly high PMS score in the premenstrual phase (p < 0.01) and postmenstrual phase (p < 0.05). These results suggested a need for future study related to changes in the actual nutrient intake and activity level during the menstrual phase.

Figures and Tables

Fig. 1
The premenstrual syndrome (PMS) scores
1) Average score (0; points for strongly disagree, 1; points for disagree, 2; points for neutral, 3; points for agree, 4; points for strongly agree)
Fig. 2
The changing food intake patterns between pre and post-menstruation
Fig. 3
Comparison of the variability of food intake between premenstrual and post-menstrual phases
Table 1
General characteristics of the subjects

1) BMI: Body Mass Index (Weight (kg) / Height (m2))

Table 2
Post menstrual signs by menstrual regularity

1) N (%)

NS: Not significant

*: p < 0.05

Table 3
Self-evaluated body image, menstrual regularity and the variability of food intake according to BMI

1) Number of the subjects (%)

NS: not significant, *: p < 0.05, **: p < 0.01

Table 4
Comparison of the sleeping time and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) score by the degree of dietary intakes in menstrual cycle

1) Mean ± SD (n)

2) Values with the different superscript are significantly different among different concentration by Duncan's multiple range test

NS: Not significant, *: p < 0.05, ***: p < 0.001

Table 5
The self awareness of food craving and changing appetite

1) Number of the subjects (%)

***: p < 0.001 by χ2-test

Table 6
Craving food items in the premenstrual phase

1) Number of the subjects (%)


This work was supported by the Gachon University research fund of 2013 (GCU-2013-R396)


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