Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Nutrition. Under the Supervision of Professor Nancy M. Lewis.
Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Wan-Ju Yen


Researchers have described women as facing a dramatic increase in the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and Alzheimer’s, the onset of these as the result of the impact of changing hormone levels, particularly the decline in estrogen. The purpose of this two-phase study was to determine if web-based nutrition education could be used to increase the consumption of food groups in MyPyramid, omega-3 fatty acids and selfefficacy in middle-aged female. Phase one was a qualitative study to identify middleaged female’s beliefs and interests around the topic of nutrition. Data were collected using audiotaped semi-structured individual interviews. Eight female staff (aged 45 to 65) in a Midwestern university were recruited using snowball sampling. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data were coded and themes developed by sorting and summarizing coded transcript segments. Three themes emerged: “Health” related to their individual conditions, such as avoiding illnesses and weight management, with aging; “Life style” described what occasions lead to participants’ current dietary action; “Availability” described the factors that influenced participants’ healthy eating behaviors. The results of this study provided a context to develop phase two for this target population. Phase two was a quantitative study to assess the effectiveness of MyPyramid to improve dietary intake and self-efficacy after a six-week online nutrition education intervention using a blog for university middle-aged female staff. The impact of additional omega-3 fatty acids education on food consumption and self-efficacy was also assessed. Ninety-three participants (aged 45 to 65) were recruited at the beginning of the study and randomized into an intervention group or control group. Results indicated that a web-based nutrition education is acceptable for this target population. MyPyramid and additional omega-3 fatty acids information did not significantly effect participants’ dietary consumption or self-efficacy to increase consumption from the food groups or to increase omega-3 fatty acid consumption. However, there was a trend that participants were less certain to include omega-3 fatty acids than whole grains in their diets.
Advisor: Nancy M. Lewis