Date of Conferral





Public Health


Manoj Sharma


Childhood obesity is a growing challenge in the U.S. Hispanic American population. There is a need for evidence-based approaches to combat this problem. Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is one such approach. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which selected constructs of SCT (expectations, self-efficacy, self-efficacy in overcoming barriers and self-control) could predict five childhood obesity prevention behaviors, namely time spent on television watching, time spent on physical activities, water consumption, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and meal portion size among Hispanic American children. A quantitative cross-sectional research design was employed for this study. Data were collected from a sample of 235 Hispanic American children between the ages of 11 and 15 years, using a cluster sampling method. A reliable survey instrument used for data collection in this study Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Survey, was developed and validated by Sharma, Wagner, and Wilkerson (2014) from three community churches in three different Georgia counties. Multiple regression analyses were used to determine the predictability of the independent variables, which were the constructs of SCT, and the dependent variables, which were the five behaviors. Significant SCT predictor of television-watching behavior was expectations (p = 0.004; adjusted R2 = 0.08). The statistically significant physical activity SCT predictor was self-efficacy (p < 0.001, adjusted R2 = 0.24). It is envisaged that the results of the study will assist public health education practitioners in developing concerted interventions among Hispanic American children and families designed to reduce childhood obesity facilitating a positive social change.