Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2023

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Jade McNamara

Second Committee Member

Mona Therrien-Genest

Third Committee Member

Kate Yerxa



The objective of this research was to explore the influence of intuitive eating (IE) on body mass index (BMI) and diet quality (DQ) among college students.


A cross-sectional convenience sample of college students completed an online survey consisting of the short-Healthy Eating Index (SHEI) and the Intuitive Eating Scale-2 (23 items). Body mass index was calculated using self-reported height and weight. Descriptive statistics were used to assess group characteristics. A linear regression was used to test if IE scores significantly predicted BMI. An independent t-test was used to compare BMIs of students with IE scores above and below the average. Pearson's correlation coefficients determined significant relationships between dietary components and IE scores. A one-way multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was used to identify differences in consumption of dietary components among students with scores above and below average IE scores, while controlling for BMI.


Participants (N=734) were an average of 20.9 (± 2.3) years old, mostly White (88.6%), female (71.1%), and heterosexual (72.1%). Participants had an average BMI of 25.3 (±5.9). Intuitive eating scores predicted BMI (r2 = 0.068, F (1,845) = 61.83, p


College students who had above average IE scores had lower BMIs but showed mixed results in relation to DQ. Students with above average IE scores consumed more F/V and less sodium but consumed more added sugar and saturated fat. More research is needed to corroborate DQ findings, but these results do provide some preliminary justification for IE education to be offered to this population to help encourage healthy BMIs and fruit and vegetable intake.