Intuitive eating non-dieting approach to weight management: Pilot program for Fort Drum DOD beneficiaries

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition Science and Dietetics


Tanya Horacek


Department of Defense, Intuitive eating, Weight management, Fort Drum, Beneficiaries

Subject Categories

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition


Military spouses have limited access to installation weight management programs compared to soldiers. Many military spouses turn to commercial weight loss facilities or fad diets that focus on losing weight quickly without necessarily fostering healthy lifestyle behaviors. A 10-week non-dieting approach to weight management program was conducted, following the concept of 'Intuitive Eating' (Tribole & Resche, 1995). The program was modified to meet the needs of the military spouses through the use of the PRECEDE/PROCEED Model for health promotion planning (Greene 1991) as well as considering their current readiness to reject the dieting mentality following Prochaska's Stages of Change Model (1995). Initially, 87 military wives volunteered for the study, and were randomized into the treatment group (10-week program intervention) or control group (no intervention). Each group performed the pre-test, post-test and 6-month follow-up test comprising surveys (eating habits/attitudes, quality of life issues, physical activity, social support and self-perception), as well as three-day food records and anthropometric analysis. Thirty-two participants remained in the program at the 6-month follow-up evaluation. The results suggest that the intervention participants made significant progress towards rejecting the dieting mentality (p=0.015 pre- to post-test, p=0.045 post- to follow-up test) as well as shifting their readiness to change towards intuitive eating (p=0.034) with a mean initial self-assessment of preparation to that of the action stage. In particular, the participants made improvement in their ability to meet their nutrient needs without feeling constantly hungry (p=0.025) and being able to take control of their eating by listening to hunger and fullness signals (p=0.051)---two very important principles relating to intuitive eating potential effectiveness in long-term weight management. Improvements were also found in self-perception; they were more comfortable with how they looked (p=0.029), realized they had abilities more important than body size (p=0.018), took more time for self (p=0.037), and expressed reduced occurrence of emotional eating (p=0.041). The treatment group expressed reduced reliance on the scale (p=0.029) and weighing themselves regularly (p=0.014). The program was found to be beneficial although weight loss was not evident, since key behaviors were modified to assist in long-term weight management.


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