Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Kathy L. Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Keywords

Dietary intake, Overweight, Teenagers, Obesity, Physical activity, Adolescents

Abstract

The present study examined the relationship between the variables weight status (expected weight, at-risk for overweight, and overweight), ethnicity, and gender and the dependent variables dietary intake and physical activity behaviors among adolescents. Data presented in this study were collected using the Nutrition and Exercise Survey for Students, which was completed by 535 6th grade and 9th grade students across 3 middle and 2 high-schools in southwest Florida. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to identify differences in dietary intake and physical activity behaviors between groups. The primary questions 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 percentile (BMI = weight in kilograms/height in meters squared).

The findings of this study indicate that there are group differences in dietary intake behaviors among 6th graders and physical activity behaviors among 6th and 9th grade participants. With respect to dietary intake behaviors, an interaction was observed for gender and ethnicity, and main effects were observed for weight category and gender. Follow-up univariate F-tests were significant for weight category on meat/beans and junk food consumption; and gender differences on meat/beans consumption. All obtained effect sizes were small. For physical activity behaviors, a main effect was observed for gender among 6th grade participants and interaction was observed for gender and ethnicity among 9th grade participants. The follow-up univariate F-tests were significant for gender differences on total and vigorous activity behaviors (males had higher means than females) and small effect sizes were observed.

The follow-up univariate F-tests for the gender and ethnicity interaction were not significant. Implications for the field of school psychology are discussed within the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention model. Within this framework, a discussion of how school psychologists can assist in creating environments that encourage health-supporting behaviors at the individual and school-wide levels will be presented. Further, the need for school psychologists to collaborate with other health professionals to address overweight and some of its physical and mental health consequences is provided.

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