Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Dawn K. Wilson


Overweight adolescents are less likely to meet physical activity (PA) recommendations as compared to healthy weight youth. Family environment and parenting practices may influence PA rates in adolescents, but few studies have examined this relationship in African American youth. The current study expands on past literature by examining associations between parenting factors and daily light PA (LPA), MVPA, and total PA. It was hypothesized that parenting factors would be positively associated with PA and that practices specific to PA (autonomy support for PA, emotional support, tangible support, and modeling) would be more strongly associated with PA outcomes compared to more general parenting practices (authoritative parenting style, autonomy support for health behaviors). Data were collected in a sample of African American adolescents (N = 148; Mage = 13.56 years; 66% female; MBMI% = 96.54) and their caregivers (Mage = 43.36 years; 94% female) enrolled in the Families Improving Together (FIT) for Weight Loss trial. Parenting factors were measured using survey data, and minutes of PA were measured using Actical accelerometers. Regression analyses indicated that the overall model for child LPA was significant (F (10, 136) = 6.13; R2 = 0.31). Parenting style (B= 16.43, SE= 4.37), emotional support (B= -10.27, SE= 4.79), and home environment (B= 9.55, SE= 3.97) significantly predicted LPA. The overall model for total PA was also significant (F (10, 136) = 7.02; R2 = 0.34). Parenting style (B= 17.40, SE= 4.90), emotional support (B= -13.00, SE= 5.33), tangible support (B= 11.43, SE= 4.45), and autonomy support specific to PA (B= 12.31, SE= 5.69) were significant predictors of total PA. Parenting factors did not significantly predict MVPA beyond covariates. Results provide initial support that parenting factors are associated with daily LPA and total PA in overweight African American youth. Factors related to home climate (parenting style and tangible support) were most strongly associated with PA overall. High levels of emotional support were associated with lower levels of LPA and total PA, consistent with some previous studies. Future interventions should aim to improve home climate and autonomy support for PA to encourage increased PA in overweight, African American youth.


© 2016, Lauren E. Huffman