Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Bradley-Klug, Kathy L.

Keywords

teenagers, obesity, overweight, dietary intake, physical activity

Abstract

The present study examined the relationship between the variables weight status (expected weight, overweight), ethnicity, and gender and the dependent variables dietary intake and physical activity behaviors among adolescents. The data presented in this study were collected using the Nutrition Questionnaire for High School Students, which was completed by 199 adolescents in a high school in southwest Florida in February of 2004. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to identify differences in dietary intake and physical activity behaviors between weight status groups. The primary questions in this study related to interactions and main effects between the variables weight category, ethnicity, and gender and the dependent variables dietary intake and physical activity behaviors.

Weight category was determined by computing each participant's body mass index (BMI = weight in kilograms/height in meters²). A BMI > 24.9 was considered overweight and a BMI < 25.0 was considered expected weight. Ethnicity and gender were based on self-report. The findings of this study indicate that there are group differences in dietary intake behaviors and physical activity behaviors. With respect to dietary intake behaviors, main effects were observed for weight category, gender, and ethnicity. However, follow-up univariate F-tests were not significant. The lack of statistical significances may be to due the very small sample sizes which reduced statistical power. Medium effect sizes were reported for gender differences on milk consumption (males had higher means than females), and for ethnic differences on junk food consumption (African Americans had the highest consumption followed by Caucasians and Latinos, respectively).

For physical activity behaviors, main effects were observed for gender and ethnicity, but not for weight category. The follow-up univariate F-tests were significant for gender differences on vigorous activity behaviors (males had higher means than females), and for ethnic differences on moderate activity behaviors (Caucasians had the larger mean followed by African Americans and Latinos, respectively). Medium effect sizes were also observed on these pairwise comparisons. Implications for the field of school psychology are discussed with example opportunities for school psychologists to assist in the development of accommodation plans, to collaborate with medical professionals to address overweight and some of its physical and mental health consequences, to help create environments that encourage health-supporting behaviors, and to assist in the development of individual and school-wide interventions.

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