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Dietary Intake Variables as Predictors of Weight Status and the Prevalence of At-Risk for Overweight and Overweight African American Preadolescents: An 18 Month Study




Harris, Kajuandra

Type of Degree



Nutrition and Food Science


This exploratory quantitative, repeated measures research design investigated whether the dietary intake variables of preadolescents’ and their caregivers could be used to predict the weight status of African American preadolescents over the span of 18 months. The study also investigated whether there was a change in the prevalence of at risk and overweight preadolescents across time. Participants were a subsample (n=83) of a larger sample of (N= 292) preadolescents whose ages ranged from 8-12 years. Anthropometric measures were collected to determine the preadolescents’ BMI. Age and gender were used to determine weight status. Results from the regression analyses revealed that neither the preadolescents’ nor their caregivers’ dietary intake variables predicted participants’ weight status. Data revealed the prevalence of at risk and overweight preadolescents in the larger sample of 292 increased from Time 1 to Time 3. However, the z-test of proportions showed the change was not statistically significant. Findings indicate a statistically significant decline in the prevalence of at risk and overweight preadolescents in the smaller subsample (n = 83). A z-test of proportions revealed a statistically significant difference in the change in prevalence from Time 1 to Time 3 (z = 3.15, 95% CI[.11, .39], p = .0004) and from Time 2 to Time 3 (z = 2.96, 95% CI[.07, .35], p = .003). Results further showed a statistically significant difference between prevalence rates of the larger sample and smaller subsample at T3 (z=3.53, 95% CI [.07, .35], p = .0004). This finding was not anticipated and there was no means to attribute the cause of decline. Additional research is needed to gain insight on why this group experienced a decline in weight status. Usually African American children when compared to others perform worse. There may be cultural, familial or peer influences on the group that could be investigated. Future studies should minimize and monitor closely the amount of self-reported data in this group to improve accuracy of dietary intake. For instance, meals could be prepared and measured in the research setting. The researcher could also keep track of preadolescents’ actual food consumption through other nutritional assessment procedures.