College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joanna Buscemi, PhD

Second Advisor

Jocelyn Smith Carter, PhD


Pediatric obesity within the United States continues to be national health concern. Children of color are systemically impacted by obesity. Behavioral Economics (BE) provides a theoretical framework for understanding what social, psychological, and cultural factors impact decision making and food consumption. BE posits that poor executive control (i.e., impulsivity) and relative reinforcing value of food (RRVfood) are two main behavioral components that predict consumption habits. These constructs are poorly understood among children from non-white backgrounds. The current study aimed to 1) identify patterns of impulsivity and food reinforcement within a diverse sample of 88 elementary school children and 2) determine whether these patterns vary by BMI z-score, calorie intake, and meal diet quality. Hierarchical cluster analyses revealed a 4-cluster solution with students’ RRVfood and DD varying across clusters (Cluster 1: Low DD/Low RRVfood; Cluster 2: High DD/Low RRVfood; Cluster 3: Low DD/High RRVfood; Cluster 4: High DD/High RRVfood (highest risk profile). Surprisingly, BMI z-score, caloric intake, and meal diet quality did not vary significantly by cluster. Findings provide support for exploring the reinforcing pathology model among youth of color and may suggest future interventions focus on impulsivity and food reinforcement, particularly among children who score highly on both measures.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons