Erin Carney

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Henry, Beverly W.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Health Studies


Nutrition; Public health; Psychology; Educational psychology; Higher education


This study examined whether an association existed between undergraduate students' intuitive eating and perceived stress levels utilizing Cohen, Kamarck, and Mermelstein's 14-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Hawks, Merrill, and Madanat's 27-item Intuitive Eating Scale (IES). Recruitment took place in an on-campus Public Health and Health Education (PHHE) elective course offered to all undergraduate students. Implementation of a double pre-test resulted in a baseline sample of 121 students of the 144 enrolled (84% response rate). Following the close of data collection and omission based on exclusion criteria, the total pre/post-sample was comprised of 79 students (55% response rate of 144). Demographic responses identified the following predominant characteristics for each sample: had not been diagnosed nor was it suggested they had an eating disorder, White, female, 18--20 years old, freshmen, and whose major could be categorized under the college of Health and Human Sciences. The graduate dietetic student leading the project hypothesized intuitive eating and perceived stress scores would have a negative relationship given that negative eating behaviors can be used as a coping mechanism in response to stress. Results of the study suggest that a positive relationship existed between intuitive eating and perceived stress levels in this sample. The present study's sample was also identified as more stressed and less agreeable to intuitive eating than participants observed in the original IES and PSS studies. In addition, this study analyzed the impact of an online intervention module on students' post-intuitive eating scores. Following the close of the second survey, participating students were randomly assigned to the control or intervention groups. Intervention participants received access to the module designed to serve as a resource to better shape students' appraisals of their individual stresses and therefore coping efforts. Specifically, this intervention provided information on negative coping mechanisms, alternative positive strategies, and the intuitive eating movement's 10 principles; guided viewers through an interactive mindful eating exercise; and referenced campus resources available for students to utilize to better manage stress and promote improved health and well-being. Analysis of module impact did not successfully identify statistically significant results between intervention and control groups. However, increased exposure to content matter and encouraged use of tools and campus resources may prove beneficial in future research efforts and in current practice.


Advisors: Beverly W. Henry.||Committee members: Amy Ozier; David Walker.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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