All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Aaron D Fobian

Advisory Committee Members

Despina Stavrinos

Dustin Long

Marissa Gowey

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2020

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Obesity represents one of our nation’s leading public health issues. In 2017, over 30% of U.S. high school students presented with either overweight (15.6%) or obesity (14.8%). These trends are alarming as early childhood and adolescence are critical developmental periods for establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors. Though past research has uncovered many factors related to adolescent eating behaviors, few studies have examined the longitudinal impacts of parenting and family variables on diet across the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Further, there is a lack of longitudinal research regarding health outcomes of fast food consumption during this same developmental period. This gap is critical, as fast food consumption has been tied to increased risk for overweight and obesity, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, high triglycerides, inflammation, high blood pressure, and poor mental health. Thus, the present study aimed to assess fast food consumption frequency trajectories from adolescence into adulthood, examining their effect on physical and mental health outcomes while also assessing the predictive nature of weekly family dinners, parent weight status, and parent control over adolescent food consumption within this model. Fast food trajectories were significantly associated with outcomes of depression. Fast food consumption across the transition from adolescence to adulthood was also related to parent control over food during adolescence and family dinner frequency. The observed relationships highlight key areas for positive changes in the fast food industry and future health interventions.

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