Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Food and Nutrition

First Advisor

Peterson, Sharon

Abstract

The prevalence of overweight and obesity in adolescents has increased dramatically over the past few decades. This increase is associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). The "R.U.A. Healthy Kid?" program was created to target modifiable risk factors related to development of T2DM. This study specifically focuses on the influence of snacking habits. Researchers have documented an increase in snacking occasions and preference for low-nutrient snacks among adolescents. Many adolescent diabetes prevention programs target dietary behaviors, but none have used the Stages of Change as a theoretical framework to promote behavior change. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of a three month community-based intervention on snack consumption and snacking habits of adolescents with risk factors for T2DM. Additionally, it explored the use of the Stages of Change model to understand how the intervention impacted adolescents' movement through the stages, and if reported stage was related to reported snack consumption and snacking habits. At completion of the study, the majority of participants reported forward progress in stages of change, indicating they were actively making changes in regards to high-nutrient (healthy) snacking. There was also a decrease in low-nutrient (unhealthy) snack consumption, and a significant improvement in overall snacking score. Participants reported several factors influenced their snack choice including hunger, taste, and availability. These findings are important to the development of appropriate programs to encourage healthy dietary behaviors at a young age.

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