Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. William Buhrow

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Gathercoal

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Peterson


Childhood and adolescent obesity strongly predicts adult obesity (Spruijt-Metz, 2011) and literature highlights the transitional period into college as a “high risk weight gain period” (Holm-Denoma, Joiner, Vohs, & Heatherton, 2008). Obesity is associated with poor physical outcomes (Freedman, Dietz, Srinivasan, & Berenson, 1999; Katz & D’Ambrosio, 2010) and psychological conditions are found in 34% of children and adolescents with an obesity-related condition, in comparison to 20% of the children in the general population (Wang & Beydoun, 2007). In the context of obesity programs, growing evidence supports the efficacy of increasing physical activity without calorie restriction to decrease body fat in children and adolescents (Kim & Lee, 2009). With a rising number of obesity interventions incorporating technology and social media, it becomes especially important to assess the efficacy of such delivery methods on physical and psychological factors. The current study tested four hypotheses concerning the effect of varying types of obesity intervention delivery on compliance, physical activity level, weight change, and a number of psychological traits in a sample of adolescent females. The three intervention types involved the use of in-person psychoeducation, technology (email and text messaging), and no contact. The focal point of this program was to engender more healthy lifestyles utilizing a physical activity-based program protocol for adolescents. Although there were various trends toward improvement, no statistically significant changes were found across the domains assessed in this eight-week intervention.

Utilization of face-to-face and technology methods to obesity intervention resulted in higher compliance in the program than the control group. The other variables (physiological, psychological, physical activity) examined regarding health behaviors yielded mixed results in improvement as a result of the eight-week intervention. This study presents meaningful considerations for future studies providing obesity intervention for college students and their preference for technology contact given their specific lifestyle. Also, it further explores barriers in developing a lifestyle of healthy behavior toward overall physiological and psychological health.