Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Catherine Coccia

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Cristina Palacios

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Adriana Campa

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Paulo Graziano

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Eating behaviors, Self-regulation, Interoception, Obesity, College students, Nutrition

Date of Defense



College student weight gain has steadily increased throughout the past decades. Issues resulting from overweight and obesity can lead to chronic disease and increased mortality risk. Inability to maintaining a healthy weight status may be attributable to unhealthy eating behaviors that often lead to poor diet quality and overeating. Recently, cognitive behaviors such as interoception and dietary self-regulation have been of great interest in order to better understand the processes of eating behaviors and their relationship with obesity.

The purpose of this study is to examine the associations of interoception, self-regulation, eating domains and body mass index (BMI) in college students. Furthermore, longitudinal associations between interoception, self-regulation, non-purposeful eating domain behaviors, and BMI were assessed. Lastly, we sought out to examine the mediated role of eating behaviors on relationships of interoception and self-regulation on BMI. This study was a longitudinal, repeated measures research study that collected data over 3 timepoints (1 timepoint per month) through the course of a single academic semester. There were 229 females who completed baseline measures and 104 participants who completed all 3 timepoints. Participants completed 7 validated questionnaires to assess interoception, self-regulation, and various eating behaviors and provided self-report of anthropometrics for body mass index (BMI) assessment.

Baseline study results indicated a positive association between interoception and self-regulation. Also, interoception and self-regulation both had a significant negative association with the purposeful and non-purposeful eating domains. The non-purposeful eating domain had a positive association with BMI. Longitudinally, there were significant changes in interoceptive responsiveness, external, and uncontrolled eating throughout the study timepoints. Also, there were significant causal relationships between interoception, self-regulation, the non-purposeful eating domain behaviors, and BMI. Lastly, intuitive eating significantly mediated the relationships of interoception on BMI, as well as self-regulation on BMI.

In conclusion, this research study has provided empirical evidence on the associations between interoception, self-regulation, purposeful and non-purposeful eating domains, and weight status. Future studies assessing long-term observation on interoception, self-regulation, and non-purposeful eating behaviors are needed to explore the processes that may affect college student’s weight status and overall lifestyles.







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