Lori Nedescu

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School

Health Sciences

Committee Member

Alice Jo Rainville

Committee Member

John Carbone

Committee Member

Christopher Taylor


Research suggests diet intake among adults lacks in healthfulness, which contributes to poor quality of life and increased disease outcomes. This study assesses the relationship between diet quality, using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), and presence of physical activity (PA). Participants included 11,167 adults ≥ 20yrs with valid NHANES 2007–08 and 2009–10 diet interviews and PA questionnaires. Subjects were divided into sedentary, 1–149 minutes per week of PA (moderate exercisers) and ≥150 minutes per week PA (meets or exceeds PA guidelines) groups based on guidelines set by the Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary interviews were scored for quality using the HEI. Those engaged in PA had higher total HEI scores (50.7 and 49.8) compared to sedentary adults (45.9). Individual dietary component scores showed mixed results, but indicated better diet quality in active individuals over sedentary individuals. These results can be used to improve diet quality in adults by providing insight into current practices.