Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Joanna Buscemi, PhD
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.
Loiacono, Bernardo, "Delay Discounting and Food Reinforcement in Youth of Color: A Cluster Analysis" (2021). College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations. 371.