Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Exercise Physiology


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

Laura J. Kruskall

Second Committee Member

Laura J. Kruskall

Third Committee Member

John Young

Fourth Committee Member

Richard Tandy

Fifth Committee Member

Brad Donohue

Number of Pages



Obesity is a major risk factor for several chronic diseases including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, postmenopausal breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and all-cause mortality due to the physiological and morphological stresses placed on the body (Britten, Cleveland, Koegel, Kuczynski, Nickols-Richardson, S. 2012; Wu, Gao, Chen, van Dam, 2009). The latest CDC survey reports the US population is at 35.8 percent overweight and 28.1 percent obese, with the State of Nevada following closely at 36.3 percent overweight and 26.2 percent obese. The condition of obesity is characterized by an overall excessive storage of adipose tissue and diseased metabolic milieu.

The Position of the American Dietetic Association: Weight Management (the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics formerly the American Dietetic Association) supports the development and implementation of a comprehensive, multipronged approach, based on scientific evidence and guidelines to treat overweight and obese individuals. These treatments should be based on lifestyle and behavior modification strategies that will result in "prevention of weight gain or stopping weight gain in an individual who has been seeing a steady increase in his or her weight; varying degrees of improvements in physical and emotional health; small maintainable weight losses or more extensive weight losses achieved through modified eating and exercise behaviors; and improvements in eating, exercise and other behaviors" (American Dietetic Association, 2009). Methods to reduce the trajectory of obesity at an individual as well as on a population level are extremely important. Thus programs need to be individualized so that they are effectively geared towards the population being served.

The purpose of this investigation was to establish and evaluate the benefits of a weight management program, using the elements found in research to have the greatest impact on health related outcomes, and how to best implement these findings into an ongoing community outreach program.

Ten participants were assigned to one of two conditions: (a) nutrition and physical activity education plus behavior modification techniques via group meetings; (b) nutrition and physical activity education via emailed handouts. Primary dependent variables were measured at baseline and post treatment; these included dietary and physical activity behaviors, dietary intake, weight lost and inches lost. The intervention consisted of eight, 60-minute weekly meetings with nutrition education and behavior modification strategies offered at each session. This same nutrition information was emailed to the participants in the email group.

Conclusion: Overall there were no significant changes in weight, there was a significant difference in inches lost about the waist and hip, and there was no significant difference in millimeters lost about the triceps. There was a significant change in behavior scores and there was a significant change in nutrition knowledge scores.

Post treatment, the behavior modification techniques participants indicated worked best in changing behavior were "retrain your brain- learn healthy ways to reward yourself," "track your diet and physical activity" and "connect with people that share your goals."

The results of this pilot study could serve as the blueprint for future program design, implementation and research performed at the UNLV Nutrition Center.


Behavior modification; Body weight--Health aspects; Cognitive therapy; Nutrition--Education; Weight loss--Health aspects



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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