Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun

Second Advisor

Dr. Rodney Lyn

Abstract

Background: Physical activity and childhood obesity have been studied extensively across the globe, but only few studies have been done in children who are aware of their obesity, overweight status and among children who are taking measures to control their weight. The purpose of this study is to examine agreement between perceived weight and ideal weight differences across gender, grade level, race and levels of weight control.

METHODS: This study is based on the secondary analysis of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) conducted in the state of Georgia in 2009 (n=1882). The 2009 YRBS for each state that participated used a two-stage cluster sample design to produce a fairly representative sample of public school students in the grades of 9-12. Agreement between the perceived weight and the ideal weight differences across gender, grade level and race was measured using Kappa statistic.

RESULTS: In general, agreement between perceived weight and the ideal weight were better in females compared to males. A much higher degree of concordance between perceived weight and the ideal weight was observed in Whites compared to Blacks and Hispanics. The analysis by grade resulted in 12th grade participants showing a high concordance value between their ideal weight and their perceived weight than the lower grade levels.

CONCLUSION: The results are in particular very insightful to the public health professionals who are in the process of promoting healthy behaviors. The study implies that minority groups such as Blacks and Hispanics may be more uninformed about their obesity status. Public health programs that are specifically designed to increase obesity awareness may help to alleviate obesity and its related consequences. Race and gender specific programs may help to increase perception about obesity in at-risk 9-12 children and adolescents.

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Public Health Commons

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