Date of Conferral







Tracy Masiello


Over the past several decades, childhood obesity has continued to rank as an epidemic, particularly in rural, impoverished areas in the United States. Therefore, researchers have affirmed the necessity of exploring solutions to the epidemic, including the need to develop and implement programs that target at-risk behaviors of childhood obesity. In this quantitative, quasi-experimental study, the focus was to determine whether public school-based programs teaching nutrition, physical education, and dietary choices could increase the nutritional knowledge, physical activities, and dietary behaviors of students attending second and third grade in rural, impoverished communities of West Virginia. The theories that served as the foundation for this study were the health belief model, and the social ecological model. Archival pretest and posttest data regarding nutrition, physical activity, and dietary behavior was provided by three public schools in rural, impoverished communities that implemented the programs over a 6-week period. Data regarding students' nutritional, physical, and dietary knowledge and behaviors were collected before and after exposure to school-based exercise and nutrition programs. Results of paired samples t tests showed a significant increase in students' nutritional and physical education knowledge, their dietary behaviors, and improvement in 4 out of the 5 areas of physical activity that were measured. Overall, the results of this study offer insight about how school-based programs can be used to develop effective school-based nutrition, dietary, and physical activity programs for students who are at-risk for obesity, especially in rural, impoverished communities.