Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Barrett, Sheila

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Health Studies


Popular health apps could contain risk factors for disordered eating such as restriction, weight stigma, harmful exercise, or compensation. Although previous studies have examined the connection between social media and disordered eating, data is lacking regarding risk factors from health apps. The purpose of this study is to develop a rating tool to detect, examine, and categorize app-based risk factors for disordered eating.

This study utilized a comprehensive review of literature regarding risk factors for disordered eating, connections between app use and disordered eating behaviors, and existing technology rating tools. Based on this framework, the Awareness of Disordered Eating

Promotion in Technology (ADEPT) was developed to contain four domains: Restriction, Weight Stigma, Exercise, and Compensatory Behaviors. The ADEPT was pilot tested on three selected apps by three trained raters in order to assess clarity and comprehension of the tool. The ADEPT was revised based on rater feedback, then used to assess the 10 most popular health and fitness apps (based on inclusion criteria).

Results from the 10-app test indicate acceptable to excellent internal consistency and large positive correlation for the following domains: Restriction, Weight Stigma, Compensatory Behaviors, and overall ADEPT total scores. The overall ADEPT results satisfied the desired level of 0.7 for Cronbach’s alpha; therefore, it is an effective tool for use in future research and indicates that disordered eating behaviors are prevalent in popular health apps.


76 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type


Included in

Nutrition Commons