College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jocelyn Smith Carter, PhD

Second Advisor

Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, PhD


The ongoing obesity epidemic within the United States is a problem that has received a lot of attention, but is still inadequately understood. Understanding the epidemic requires examining BMI from a larger perspective, with an ecological mindset (Rosenkranz & Dzewaltowski, 2008). A bidirectional relationship between depression and obesity, which has been found in the past, might be due to family meals. Sedentary behaviors has been linked to both outcomes, and is predicted by family meal frequency, suggesting that it may play a mediational role. In order to help clarify the relationship between depressive symptoms and obesity, a sample of 120 youth (55.8% males) between the ages of eight and 14 years old (M = 11.90, SD = 1.87) was examined. The sample was predominantly Caucasian (36.7%) and African American (33.3%). Preliminary analyses found that there were differences in the outcome variables between males and females, and between participants from the two recruitment sites. Regression analyses and Sobel tests with bootstraps were conducted to test the theoretical model, one for each mediational pathway. Evidence was found for a mediational relationship between family meal frequency and depressed mood, through sedentary behaviors (indirect effect b = -0.04, 95% CI [-0.11, -0.01]). No evidence was found for the same relationship but with BMI as the outcome instead of depressed mood, as the indirect effect was non-significant (b = -0.01, 95% CI [-0.07, 0.03]). Implications for future research and intervention development are discussed.

SLP Collection