Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Animal Nutrition and Food Science

First Advisor

Stephen J. Pintauro

Second Advisor

Regina Toolin


During late adolescence and the transition to college, students often experience weight increases and significant lifestyle changes including the adoption of unhealthy eating habits and decreased physical activity levels. To address this concern, a science-based, interactive course, designed from a framework of behavioral theories was developed to target improvements in energy balance knowledge and determinants of dietary and physical activity behaviors. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of this course using a comparison group pre-test/post-test design. Thirty-three undergraduate students, ages 18-25, participated in the course, while twenty-six students served as controls. Paired samples t-tests compared pre- to post- responses to knowledge assessments and self-perception surveys. Independent samples t-tests compared mean changes between the intervention and control group. Course evaluations were reviewed to determine to what degree behavioral strategies were perceived to influence student motivation to eat a healthy diet and engage in the recommended amount of physical activity. Significant increases were observed in energy balance knowledge (P < .001) and perceived behavioral control (P = .004) towards eating a healthy diet in the intervention group when compared to the control group. Diet and physical activity recalls and analyses were perceived by students to have the greatest influence on their motivation/ability to engage in the targeted behaviors. We conclude that an online, interactive, science-based energy balance course developed from behavioral theories can be effective at improving energy balance knowledge and dietary perceived behavioral control in a college population.



Number of Pages

111 p.

Included in

Nutrition Commons