Using the Ecological Model of Predictors to Address Gaps in Childhood Obesity Prevention Research
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Childhood obesity is a public health issue that must be addressed using interventions that increase physical activity, reduce sedentary behaviors and reduce the consumption of unhealthy food and beverages. Although researchers have identified the primary factors that increase a child’s risk for obesity, there is still very little scientific understanding of how context influences the outcomes of childhood obesity prevention interventions. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide additional insight into how researchers and practitioners can strengthen obesity prevention interventions to reach children in multiple contexts. The first study is a systematic literature review that examines the impact of school characteristics, including school climate and school culture, on the adoption, implementation and sustainability of school-based obesity prevention interventions. . Organizational characteristics related to access to resources, staff training/professional development, internal support and organizational values influenced the adoption, implementation and sustainability of school-based obesity prevention interventions. The findings also highlight the need for validated tools to aid researchers in defining and measuring school climate and culture related to health. The second study examines parent encouragement as a moderating variable between parent physical activity and child screen time. Parent encouragement was a moderating variable among White children and for children whose parents reported that it was safe for their child to play in their neighborhood with other children. This study highlights the importance of community and parent perceptions in the delivery of interventions that seek to reduce sedentary behaviors. The final study examines the relationship between organized sports and child physical activity. Multi-level modeling was used to examine the association between school, child/ family characteristics and participation in organized sports. The results of this study suggest that children who participate in organized sports are more active than their peers who do not participate in organized sports. Surprisingly, girls were more likely to report participation in organized sports than boys. Physical activity did not vary between schools or by race/ethnicity or weight status. The findings from this dissertation highlight the importance of researchers exploring the influence of context on childhood obesity risk. Gaining additional insight into how context influences a child’s risk for obesity may assist in the development of obesity prevention interventions that reach children in multiple environments.
Fair, Kayla Nicole (2016). Using the Ecological Model of Predictors to Address Gaps in Childhood Obesity Prevention Research. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from