Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Alexa Smith-Osborne


Purpose: Obesity in children and adolescents is a worldwide epidemic that is anticipated to worsen over time (Budd & Volpe, 2006; Chatterjee, Blakely, & Barton, 2005; Hossain, Kawar, & El Nahas, 2007). Within the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States has more than doubled among children and quadrupled in adolescents (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2014). People often have inaccurate perceptions of their body size and weight status and this may play a key role in the prevalence of obesity especially for ethnic minorities (Gillard, Lackland, Mountfored, & Egan, 2007; Hendley, et al., 2011). In order to combat child obesity, it is imperative for future research to explore the phenomenon of parent education, behaviors, perceptions and the impact on child weight status within a strong theoretical conceptual model. The purpose of this dissertation is to build a theoretical conceptual model and testable model to understand the associations among African American parent education, behaviors, and perceptions of their child's body size and the impact on their child's weight status. Methods: The School Physical Activity and Nutrition survey (SPAN) was developed using a repeated cross-sectional study design to estimate changes in body mass index (BMI) by three major racial/ethnic groups (African Americans, Hispanics, and whites/others) in Texas public school children (Hoelscher, Day, Lee, Frankowski, Kelder, Ward & Scheurer, 2003). For this study, only African American 4th grade students (n=372) and their parents (n=372) will be used. Data analyses included descriptive statistics, multiple regression, moderation, and mediation analysis.Results: Findings suggest that a parent's level of education had a direct impact on health knowledge and discrimination. Parent perceptions of their child's body size was directly associated with child weight status, but parent weight status moderated this relation. The number of children living in the home had a direct impact socioeconomic status (SES), SES had a direct impact on stress, and stress had a direct impact on parenting rules and discipline. The more physical activity parents did with their children, the lower their child's weight status, however, parent weight status mediated this relation. Lastly, as the consumption of more healthy foods increased, so did the child's weight status. Implications: The findings of this study offer a comprehensive picture of how parent education, perceptions and behaviors impact child weight status. These results highlight suggested areas that may be used by social work practitioners, researchers, and policy makers when working African American parents and their children. This study also suggests a final robust theoretical conceptual model of theory and evidence-based literature to guide future research.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons