Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Nutrition--Study and teaching (Secondary)--Middle West; Nutrition--Study and teaching (Secondary); Obesity--Prevention; Middle West; Academic theses;


Childhood and adolescent obesity and eating disorders are increasing at an alarming rate in the United States and they occur at younger ages than previously observed. To combat childhood and adolescent obesity, many school nutrition education programs offer obesity prevention programs. Some of these programs consist of restrictive eating plans for obesity prevention, yet their efficacy has been questioned because an unintended consequence is that they may actually increase eating disorder behaviors. An alternative to programs that focus on restrictive eating is the Intuitive eating approach, which is based on the premise that an adherence to physiological cues in determining hunger and fullness levels will fulfill nutritional needs. Ten basic principles are given without restrictive dieting practices. Although this seems like a promising approach, and at least one study supports its use, there is a lack of research examining its efficacy, particularly for school-aged students. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of the Intuitive eating approach in educating high school students about healthy eating, with the goal of increasing health attitudes towards eating, and reducing eating disorder attitudes and behaviors.

Two sections of high school students received two weeks of an Intuitive eating curriculum (intuitive eating) and an additional two sections of high school students received a control nutrition curriculum (destination wellness) for two weeks. Students filled out a survey measuring healthy attitudes toward eating (intuitive eating Scale) and an assessment of eating disorder symptomatology (Eating Attitudes Test) at the beginning and again at the end of the two-week intervention. Students who received the intuitive eating curriculum reported significantly higher levels of healthy attitudes towards eating after the intervention than those who participated in the destination wellness curriculum as indicated by their scores on the intuitive eating Scale at posttest, using pretest scores on this scale as a covariate. Additionally, no significant differences were found between the experimental and control groups on the Eating Attitudes Test at posttest, again using pretest scores on this test as a covariate. Implications of these finding are discussed in regards to future nutrition curricula in the high school setting.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Kimberly Knesting


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Date Original


Object Description

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