Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Science


Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Kathleen Melanson


Background: Improved diet quality has been identified as a key factor in improving longevity and quality of life. Behavior change interventions seeking to influence diet quality and limit obesity often focus on caloric restrictions and quantities of foods consumed. No current interventions have focused solely on the act of eating, despite initial research that suggests that pace at which food is consumed during a meal may be influential.

Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate relationships between within-meal eating rate and diet quality, and the influence of participation in an eating rate intervention on diet quality.

Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis utilizing data from the Eating Pace Instruction Classes (EPIC) I Study. Participants included 22 females ages 18 to 24 years with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 31.8 +2.6kg/m2. The study used a pre-test post-test design with randomized equivalent treatment and non-treatment control groups. The treatment group participated in a five week intervention consisting of weekly one-on-one coaching sessions focusing on techniques to help participants decrease their within-meal eating rates. Relationships between eating rate and diet quality were assessed by first using laboratory measured eating rate at baseline and post intervention for both groups, and 24-hour dietary recalls to assess dietary quality at these time points. Diet quality was assessed by Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) scores. Pearson Correlations were used to assess relationships between diet quality and eating pace at baseline. Independent Samples t-tests and one way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) were used to evaluate potential differences between treatment and control groups post intervention.

Results: There was no relationship between eating pace and diet quality at baseline (r = 0.26, p= 3.23). Although the intervention was successful in decreasing eating rate (F = 13, p < 0.001), there was no effect on diet quality (F = 0.3, p = 0.91). In this study, an eating pace intervention that reduced eating rate had no influence on diet quality. Future research should explore combining eating rate instruction with nutrition education to increase diet quality and decrease chronic disease risk.



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