Predictors of overweight in children in grades six through eight

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Nursing (Nursing)

First Committee Member

Rosemary Hall - Committee Chair


The rate of overweight in children is increasing at an alarming rate. The IOM (2005) estimated 9 million children over the age of six in the United States are obese. Between 1980 and 2002 the CDC (2002) estimated the rate of childhood obesity has doubled for adolescents ages 12 to 19 years (7% to 16%), and tripled for those children ages six to 11 years (5% to 16%). The health consequences of being overweight are severe and lead to decreased longevity and quality of life. The purpose of this study was to determine which factors (diet, physical activity, stress, sleep, gender, ethnicity, parental obesity, self-perception, and SES) have predictive value in the development of overweight in children in grades six through eight.The epidemiological framework, Web of Causation was used to guide this study. This model originally described by MacMahon, Pugh, and Ispen (1960) allows for the investigation of multiple causative and associated factors including lifestyle, environment, psychosocial factors, health care availability, nutrition, and physical activity.A cross-sectional predictive study was completed with 75 parent and child participants from a parochial school in south Florida. A univariate analysis of all potential predictors identified in the literature using a significance of p ≤ .25 was performed. The dependent factor was the child's BMI greater than 85% for age and gender. Fourteen factors were included in the final forward stepwise logistic regression analysis. Instruments included family demographics, the parent and student Middle School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (MSPAN), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Hailer's Self-Perception Scale for Children (SPSC).The sample demographics were Hispanic (60%), Caucasian (25%), and Multiethnic (8%), and other (7%). The final logistics regression model found that father's obesity (OR 5.99; p= 0.001) and Self-perception of Physical Appearance (OR 0.43; p=0.038) were predictive factors of overweight in this sample of children.The findings of this study supported that family dynamics play a part in the development of this chronic disease. Future research should be directed at defining factors that place children at risk for overweight in order to develop meaningful interventions to curb this pandemic.


Health Sciences, Nursing; Health Sciences, Epidemiology

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