Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Tammy Harpel


A critical time period to prevent overweight may be the college age years. College students experience newfound food independence, possibly resulting in the formation of poor eating habits, such as overeating, or binge eating, placing them at high risk for obesity. Additionally, college students with high perceived stress levels are more likely to experience emotional eating, which may lead to weight gain. Intuitive Eating (IE) practice focuses on listening to the hunger and satiety signals, in hopes that it will prevent overeating, resulting in weight loss. Recently, texting intervention has been seen to be a successful intervention platform for behavior change and nutrition education. Therefore, reaching college students through a text messaging platform may increase the success and adherence to IE guidelines. This study examines if IE through text messaging influences the IE habits, perceived stress, and perceived self-efficacy of college students in comparison to an electronically emailed handout with the same information. Midwestern college students (n=300) completed a pre-survey online which assessed: IE practice (Intuitive Eating Scale), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale), and self-efficacy (General Self-Efficacy Scale and Eating Habits Confidence Survey). Participants were then randomly divided into the control (n=150) or intervention (n=150) group. The intervention group received five weeks of intervention with weekly IE texts, and the control received the same information in an emailed handout. After intervention was complete, participants took a post-survey, which reassessed participants by the same measures used in the pre-survey. Descriptive statistics were calculated for participant characteristics and variables of interest. Control and intervention groups’ pre- and post-intervention IE, Perceived Stress, General Self-Efficacy, and Eating Habits Confidence were compared with paired t-tests to assess if the intervention program was associated with significant change in these variables. Additionally, linear regression was used to assess if change in Eating Habits Confidence and Perceived Stress was associated with the IE intervention. A total of 146 (99 intervention, 47 control) participants fully completed the survey, and the majority of participants were 18 years of age (70%), white (90%), female (85%), freshman in college (75%), and currently unemployed (75%). The results of this study found IE texting intervention to significantly increase total IE habits within the college student population. Additionally, IE texting was found increase GSE scores and limit increase PSS levels. The results of this study provide evidence that texting can be a successful platform for increasing IE behaviors among college students.


Imported from ProQuest Loughran_ilstu_0092N_10901.pdf


Page Count