Title

Peer contributions to adolescents' eating, exercise, and weight control behaviors

Date of Award

2007

Availability

Article

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Annette M. La Greca, Committee Chair

Abstract

The current study used structural equation modeling to examine the relationship between adolescents' peer crowd affiliation, their own concern about weight and appearance, peers' concern about weight and appearance, and their eating, exercise, and weight control behaviors. Given the rise in rates of obesity as well as the numbers of adolescents engaging in risky methods of weight control, it is important to study factors that might be related to these behaviors. A diverse group of 344 adolescent boys and girls from local public high schools were surveyed at one time point to assess peer crowd affiliation, "own" and "peer" concern with weight and appearance, and eating, exercise, and weight control. Ethnicity and body mass index based on reported weight and height were also used.Results suggest that the relationship between these factors differ for boys and for girls, and therefore each model was examined separately by gender. For all girls' models, level of identification with the Jocks was related to less "own" concern with weight, and level of identification with the Alternatives was related to more "own" concern with weight. For boys' models, level of identification with the Brains was related to more perceived peer concern with weight. "Own" concern with weight was related to less exercise and more weight control behaviors in girls, and related to healthful and unhealthful eating for boys. Perceived peer concern with weight was related to exercise and weight control behaviors for girls, and was related to weight control for boys. A mediation effect was also found suggesting that "own" concern with weight was related to weight control, but only via its relationship to perceived "peer" concern. The models' relationship with ethnicity and body mass index appeared to be more complex than initially hypothesized, perhaps acting as moderators for the model.Overall, although the models did not display ideal fits with the data, they suggest that both peer crowd identification and "own" and "peer" concern with weight uniquely contribute to adolescents' eating, exercise, and weight control behaviors. This information could be used in prevention and intervention programs by more accurately targeting at-risk teens.

Keywords

Psychology, Social; Psychology, Clinical

Link to Full Text

http://access.library.miami.edu/login?url=http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:dissertation&res_dat=xri:pqdiss&rft_dat=xri:pqdiss:3285372