Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Committee Chair

Julie Schumacher


A youth’s college years is a critical period in health behavior formation, during which body mass index (BMI) and other health behaviors such as diet and physical activity are strong predictors of adult health status. Text messaging is prominent in the lives of most college-age adults. Despite this, relatively few studies have investigated the potential of utilizing a text message-based intervention to target fruit and vegetable consumption, a measure for weight management behaviors. Additionally, few studies utilizing a text message-based intervention have utilized a theory specific to the creation of behavior-motivating text messages. The gain-framed health behavior messages of Prospect Theory, in which the positive outcomes of an action are emphasized, have been shown in print media to significantly impact various health behaviors. This study investigates whether gain-framed text messages influence the fruit and vegetable consumption of college-aged adults compared to non-framed behavior motivating text messages. Midwestern college students (n=33) completed an online survey that assessed fruit and vegetable consumption. Participants were randomly divided into intervention (n=17) and control (n=16) groups. Both the intervention and control groups received three text messages for seven weeks, with the intervention group receiving gain-framed behavior motivating messages and the control group receiving an identical message without gain-framing. Descriptive statistics were analyzed to identify the sample’s demographic characteristics. The pre- and post-intervention food questionnaire scores for the intervention and control groups were compared using independent t-tests to determine differences in fruit and vegetable consumption. Paired t-tests were used to compare the intervention and control groups’ within-group fruit and vegetable consumption scores before and after the intervention. Thirty-three participants fully completed the survey. The majority of the participants were 21 years of age (60.6%), white (78.8%), female (72.7%), and senior level in college (69.7%). The results of this study showed that gain-framed text messages non-significantly improved fruit and vegetable consumption; however, the text messaging intervention failed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption independent of the message frame. The results of this study show that health educators may be able to maintain or promote small changes in the fruit and vegetable consumption among college-age young adults.


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