Date of Conferral





Public Health


Shirley Gerrior


There has been an upward trend in obesity among African American (AA) adolescents over the last 2 decades. While parenting characteristics (e.g., styles and practices) are linked to adolescent eating habits and weight status, related research has focused on European American children from 2-parent middle-class households or economically disadvantaged AA children from single mother households. The purpose of this quantitative secondary data analysis was to investigate the relationship between parenting characteristics on the weight status of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years (n = 325) among a broader population of AA mothers and fathers residing both inside and outside of the home. The social cognitive theory, widely used in obesity intervention research, was the framework used to explore parental behaviors that contribute to adolescent weight status and health. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 was used to examine the relationship between parenting characteristics on adolescent weight status, as measured by body mass index (BMI) percentile. Statistical analysis included the Kruskal-Wallis Test, Mann-Whitney U, Spearman rho correlation, and hierarchical multiple regression. Results indicated no significant relationships between parenting characteristics and adolescent BMI percentiles as determined by Kruskal-Wallis and multiple regression analysis when controlled for sociodemographic variables. Study findings indicate that variables beyond parenting practices, such as urban/rural residence, must be considered to explain BMI and weight status among AA adolescents. Largely, this study increased knowledge on AA parenting characteristics and promotes education and social awareness of the continued weight epidemic that plagues AA children in the United States.

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