Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Cheryl L. Somers



High School Students’ Physical Health: Associations with Intrapersonal,

Family, Peer, Academic, and Risk Behavior Factors



MARCH 2016

Advisor: Dr. Cheryl Somers

Major: Educational Psychology

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

A significant body of research and literature supports the need to address the obesity epidemic as it pertains to children and adolescents. Research has suggested that a multitude of factors are associated with overweight status. This study explored the relationships among weight status (represented in the current study by BMI), key environmental contexts that adolescents are concurrently exposed to, including family and peer relationships, and intrapersonal variables, including self-esteem, body image, mood, and self-control for eating, peer and parent acceptance, along with risk taking behavior and academic achievement among high school age students. This research was conducted in order to obtain a better understanding of the relationship and strength between such variables. Participants were 201 high school students (136 males, 65 females) from a large, suburban school district. Several themes surfaced, including that subjective weight was what above all was most strongly associated with weight status, and both adolescents’ own body satisfaction and their perceptions of their parents’ negative comments about others’ weight emerged as consistently significant factors as well in explaining variance in adolescents’ own weight status. Males and females differed on a number of different variables including, weight worry, restrained eating, emotional eating, PANAS negative and self-esteem. Implications for applied contexts and future research surrounding adolescent weight status are discussed.