Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition Science and Dietetics


Margaret Voss

Second Advisor

Rick Welsh


Diet, Dietetics, Exercise, Greek Life, Nutrition, Sorority

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health Sciences


Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in diet and exercise patterns in sorority women from campuses with different Greek Life structures. The goal was to determine if the centralization of the sorority through the presence of a chapter sorority house altered these health behaviors for any of the women.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used to gather data from sorority members at two northeastern universities during October of 2014. Women created a one-week food and exercise record through the MyFitnessPal application for smartphones. They were also asked to complete a survey with questions regarding demographics, eating patterns, and the Body Shape Questionnaire-34 (BSQ). The dependent variables of dietary macronutrient and micronutrient intake, total energy intake, physical activity frequency, calories burned through exercise, and BSQ-based Body Image Score were tested for statistical differences as a function of the presence or absence of centralized sorority housing.

Participants: The participants were 44 sorority women from two college campuses. Electronic food and exercise records were collected from 12 women in four sorority chapters with centralized housing arrangements. Electronic food and exercise records were collected from 32 women from the same four sororities in decentralized living arrangements at a different university.

Results: Women living in centralized sorority houses had a higher BMI (p<0.05), healthier eating patterns (Diet Score p<0.001), lower total energy intake (p=0.020), lower exercise frequency (p=0.008), burned fewer calories (p=0.015), and had less preoccupation with body size and shape (Body Image Score p=0.030) than the women in decentralized sorority living arrangements. Both groups of women under consumed total calories, resulting in diets deficient in most micronutrients. Both groups of women exceeded sodium and saturated fat recommendations.

Conclusions: The presence of a campus sorority house influences the diet and exercise habits of sorority women. The results of this research point to a need for further studies to evaluate differences within and between Greek Life populations to better understand the social mediators of health behaviors; the work should also be expanded to explore similar questions in fraternities. It is likely that sorority women, regardless of housing arrangements or campus culture, would benefit from nutrition education regarding total energy and macro- and micro- nutrient requirements.


Open Access