Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Dr. Ethan Bergman

Second Committee Member

Dr. Timothy Englund

Third Committee Member

Katy Williams


Eating Disorders (ED) impact people worldwide at increasing rates and are a contemporary public health issue in the United States. The purpose of this research was to understand if exposure to Diet Culture impacts disordered eating behaviors in college students. A cross-sectional study was conducted of adults aged 18 and older who were currently enrolled in at least one college-level course during the period of August 2023 to December 2023. Utilizing the platform Qualtrics, an anonymous survey was created and distributed via online and in-person sources. Researchers created 5 survey questions aimed at collecting data on the familiarity and exposure of Diet Culture. Along with these questions, the EAT-26 questionnaire was utilized in the survey to determine a participant's disordered eating behaviors and need for referral to a treatment professional. Among our respondents, 48.7% (97) met the EAT-26 threshold for a referral to an eating disorder professional. Additionally, 30.2% (60) participants reported having a poor relationship with food, 93.6% (186) of participants exhibited some level of knowledge of the term Diet Culture, and 49.2% (98) of participants recalled their first exposure being before the age of 10. 81.5% of respondents reported that Diet Culture influences their eating behaviors in some way. Participants who reported a worse relationship with food, having a younger age of exposure to Diet Culture, or believing that Diet Culture influences their eating more were found to be more likely to qualify for a referral. Women and genderqueer people were more familiar with the term Diet Culture, recall being exposed at younger ages, and felt more influence on their eating behaviors. No significant correlations were found between a respondent's major of study and any of our variables. A substantial portion of students are familiar with Diet Culture, feel it impacts their eating behaviors, or recall being exposed at a young age. These findings shed light on the damage that Diet Culture can create as well as a need for more targeted treatment and prevention for college students.