Date of Award

Summer 6-23-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Sarah Henes, PhD, RD, LD

Second Advisor

Leslie Knapp, MS, RD, LD

Third Advisor

Anita Nucci, PhD, RD, LD

Fourth Advisor

Barbara Hopkins, MMSc, RD, LD


Background: A growing number of college students are classified as overweight or obese, increasing their likelihood of developing a chronic disease as an adult. Studies have shown social media platforms to be effective in increasing awareness and engagement, in combination with other components, to motivate nutrition and lifestyle behavior change. The purpose of this study was to determine if a nutrition consultation discussing energy needs and nutrition education about weight loss, combined with an 8 week Facebook nutrition intervention will 1) decrease BMI and 2) improve dietary habits of college freshman. Methods: A total of 20 participants were recruited from a large, urban university in Atlanta, GA. Research participants completed a pre-study 3-day food diary, indirect calorimetry to measure resting metabolic rate and a 30-minute individualized consultation with a nutrition graduate student and registered dietitian (RD). Participants then engaged

in an 8-week Facebook nutrition intervention. Height, weight, and 3- day food logs were collected post-study. Pre- and post-study BMI were calculated for each participant, and each food diary (pre and post study) was analyzed for changes in dietary intake (ESHA Food Processor). The data were normally distributed and a paired t-test was used to determine differences between the mean of pre- and post-study weight and BMI.

Results: The population (n=8) had an average age of 19.03 years; the majority were female (87.5%) and African American (87.5%). Sixty-three percent of the participants who had pre-post weight measurements (n=8) maintained or decreased their BMI. Additionally, there were no statistically significant differences in fruit (p=0.18) and vegetable (p=0.90) consumption (n=6). A mean decrease of 23.00 ounces/day was seen in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (p=0.28).

Conclusion: These pilot data indicate that a nutrition intervention including nutrition counseling based on individual energy needs and 8-weeks of messages delivered via Facebook is effective in maintaining or decreasing BMI in overweight and obese freshman. Additionally, there were no significant changes in dietary behavior, although there was an observed overall decrease in sugar-sweetened beverages. Future studies of greater length and with a larger sample size should be conducted to determine if more significant dietary changes and weight changes would be observed in this population.