Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The prevalence of obesity in the United States was stable at 17% from 2011-2014 among approximately 13 million children and adolescents 12-19 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nutritional counseling has been recommended, and while most physicians agree that it is necessary, it is not happening consistently. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between dietary intake, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI) characteristics of youth 12-17 years old in California and the receipt of nutritional counseling. Social cognitive theory guided this quantitative cross-sectional analysis of archived data from 814 youth in the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) 2015-2016. Independent variables included demographics (age, gender, and race), BMI, unhealthy and healthy foods, physical activity and being sedentary; the dependent variable was receipt of nutritional counseling. Findings showed that 73.5% of children who were obese or overweight received counseling. BMI was the strongest predictor of dietary counseling. Independent of diet, physical activity, age, gender, and race, youth who were obese (BMI, kg/m2, â?¥95th percentile) were almost 100% more likely to talk to their doctor compared to children of normal weight (multivariable-adjusted OR=1.98, 95% CI: 1.23, 3.20). The number of cans of sweet fruit/sports drinks was significantly associated with the outcome (p=0.04). There was no significant association between fruit and vegetable consumption (adjusted OR=1.02, 95% CI: 0.95, 1.10) or physical activity (adjusted OR=0.99, 95% CI: 0.71, 1.39) and nutritional counseling. The implications of the study findings for social change include potential improvements in obesity screening and counseling to improve adolescent health outcomes. Addressing weight issues and diet /lifestyle education earlier in life, could reduce chronic disease in the youth.