An Investigation of Self-Concept Domain Scores, a Food Guide Pyramid Index, Media Use, and Other Demographic Variables Impacting the Body Mass Index of Preadolescent Children in Southern Mississippi

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition and Food Systems

First Advisor

Mary Kay Meyer

Advisor Department

Nutrition and Food Systems


Factors affecting childhood overweight were the focus of this research. Childhood overweight is the most prevalent nutritional disease among children and adolescents in the United States (Dietz, 1998; Must & Strauss, 1999; Nicklas, Baranowski, Cullen, & Berenson, 2001). This research investigated whether relationships between self-concept domain scores, a Food Guide Pyramid Index (FGP Index), media use, and other demographic variables of preadolescents existed with their BMI-for-age. The ecological systems theory (EST) provided the framework surrounding the variables. Perceived self-concept domain scores were measured with a self-perception profile for children (SPPC) entitled, What am I like? (Harter, 1985). A FGP Index and media use were measured with The Day in the Life Questionnaire (DILQ). The DILQ was a coloring book-style, 24-hour dietary and activity recall from the BHF Health Promotion Research Group, Institute of Health Sciences, Oxford, England (Edmunds & Ziebland, 2002). One elementary school administration collaborated with this researcher by providing the data of body mass index (BMI), grade, age, gender, race, and school nutrition program (SNP) participation of 180 children in the third-grade and the fourth-grade physical education classes. This investigation found no significant relationships of self-concept domain scores, a Food Guide Pyramid Index (FGP Index), media use score, race, gender, or grade impacting the BMI-for-age of these Mississippi preadolescent children. Significant differences were found among gender with females having a higher physical appearance domain score, a higher FGP Index, and a higher media use score than males. These significant differences demonstrate the interaction of the many influences on the developing child in their ecological niche. Over one-third of the children (35%) presented at risk for other health concerns based on the higher BMI-for-age. These results could launch more research or an intervention with an ecological systems approach to decrease sedentary behavior and to promote balanced nutrition of the children studied. The approach should involve the components of self, home, school, and community.