Preferred Name

Don Mellott

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

ORCID

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2641-8638

Date of Graduation

5-12-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Health Professions

Advisor(s)

Dr. Jennifer Walsh, PhD, RDN

Dr. Jeremy Akers, PhD, RDN

Dr. Elizabeth Edwards, PhD

Dr. Jessica G. Irons, PhD

Abstract

Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses in the United States. Given their high prevalence and low treatment rates, mitigating risk exposure is necessary for prevention. Dietary monitoring applications are highly popular self-monitoring tools that can inform dietary patterns and improve weight loss efficacy. However, they can also serve as a means for those with body preoccupation to restrict and possibly exacerbate disordered symptomatology. A literature search was conducted to identify research regarding the usage of dietary monitoring applications and eating disorder/disordered eating symptomatology. Twelve articles met inclusion criteria and are discussed in the review. An association between the use of apps to self-monitor dietary intake and disordered eating behaviors were consistently reported in observational studies. No impact on the use of these apps and validated assessments of eating disorder/disordered eating symptomatology were indicated in experimental studies on low-risk populations. However, both limitations and qualitative analysis suggest that continued research with improved methodology is necessary. Some principal issues within methodology include sampling issues, minimal risk exposure, and unrealistic use case scenarios. With eating disorder prevalence and dietary monitoring app use rising, future research to investigate the associations and any temporal effects on eating disorder/disordered eating symptomatology is imperative to inform researchers and clinicians.

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