Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Suzanne Mazzeo


The transition to college has been identified as a critical period for increases in overweight status. Overweight college students are at-risk of becoming obese adults, thus prevention efforts targeting college age individuals might be one key to reducing adult obesity rates. The current study developed and implemented an intensive, 6-session, internet intervention. This intervention was evaluated with first year college students assigned randomly to one of four treatment conditions: 1) no treatment, 2) 6-week weight and caloric feedback only, 3) 6-week internet intervention, and 4) 6-week combined feedback and internet intervention. As expected, the combined intervention group had lower BMI at post-testing than the internet, feedback, and control groups. The combined intervention showed reduced snacking behaviors after dinner; however, other measures of eating and exercise behaviors and beliefs were not observed. Ethnic and gender differences were observed. African American participants had lower body dissatisfaction than White participants. Further, within the White subsample, the combined intervention group manifested reductions in binge eating symptoms and increased fiber intake compared to controls. Males reported more physical activity across all intervention arms than females. This study demonstrates the effectiveness and feasibility of an internet based intervention to prevent weight gain among college students. Future studies are needed to understand the mechanisms involved in preventing weight gain in this age group and to develop more culturally targeted interventions for diverse students.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

March 2009

Included in

Psychology Commons