Paper Type

Master's Thesis


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. Jan Meires

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathaleen Bloom

Third Advisor

Dr. Catherine Christie

Department Chair

Dr. Lillia Loriz

College Dean

Dr. Pamela Chally


Obesity is a serious health concern in modern society. One way to reduce caloric intake is with nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS). However, recent research suggests they may be compounding the obesity problem. Nonnutritive sweeteners have been linked to increased body mass in a few studies and may be a barrier to effective weight management for some individuals.

Under the framework of the health belief model, the research question was: Does this pattern of NNS-BMI covariance exist in young adults at the University of North Florida and, if so, are there other dietary or activity differences that might partially explain this relationship? A sample of 113 students completed an online survey based on the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey to answer this question. Their responses quantified BMI, activity level estimates, NNS intake, and produce consumption. There was a no trend of covariance between BMI and NNS intake overall. However, there was a significant relationship between length of NNS usage and both BMI

(p<0.01) and NNS intake (p<0.05). A positive correlation also existed between NNS usage and fruit and vegetable intake (p<.005). Weight variability was positively related to NNS due to the maintenance of previous weight loss (p<0.005). There was no correlation between NNS and activity. There is a tendency to have a higher BMI the longer NNS is consumed. This pattern does not appear to be explained by nutrient intake or activity. However, it may be due to increased tolerance towards sweets over time. Nurse practitioners can make recommendations that facilitate healthy behaviors amongst their patients. Therefore, this is an important issue for advanced practice nursing.