This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of social-ecological elements influence on weight gain in children from Alabama.




Ayine, Priscilla

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Childhood obesity generally tracks through the life course of an individual and is related to the increased risk of metabolic and chronic disease later in life. Additionally, excess weight during childhood increases chances of developing chronic conditions such diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer later in life. Treating obesity and its related conditions is estimated to cost the United States about $190 billion in 2005, which is said to have doubled compared to previous estimates. This dissertation examines the cumulative effects of several risk factors that contribute to childhood obesity. We first explored the relationship between sleep timing, television exposure, and dinner time with children’s weight gain. It was revealed that there was a significant increase in BMI of children who went to bed late compared to those who went to bed early regardless of having the same sleep durations, indicating that BMI increases in children may be dependent on sleep timing and not sleep duration. Exploring television exposure and dinner time also showed that longer television exposure and late dinner timing corresponds to higher BMI of children. Furthermore, we investigated the association between children’s BMI and the factors of the child-feeding questionnaire (CFQ), as well as examining the influence of maternal education. The findings indicate that children’s BMI was positively associated with perceived child weight and parental concern and negatively associated with pressure to eat. Additionally, we found that the parental feeding practice factor (pressure to eat) was the only factor dependent upon maternal education. And finally, we explored the differences in children’s eating behaviors and maternal education in relation to child weight status using the child eating behavior questionnaire. The results indicates that children with obesity exhibited a significant increase in food responsiveness, enjoyment of food, emotional overeating, and a decrease satiety responsiveness compared to normal weight children. Furthermore, we observed high mean scores among food approach subscales in low maternal education levels compared to food avoidance subscales. Indicating that low maternal education may be susceptible to children’s behaviors that involve interest in food compared to mothers with higher levels of education.