Pediatric overweight and obesity is a growing national epidemic with 15 percent of children ages 6-19 considered obese and at least 22 percent considered overweight. While there is considerable research pointing to contributing factors of obesity, there is a paucity of research which elucidates what contributes to successful intervention. Considering that by the year 2050, nearly 50 million Americans may be obese, understanding the factors delineating success of weight loss and prevention is a necessity. The purpose of this study was to utilize archival data from the LLU Growing Fit Program to evaluate the levels of psychological distress experienced by overweight and obese children in a weight management program serving a predominantly Hispanic population. Further this study examined the clinical utility of using a projective measurement for this purpose. This study also examined how distress and other psychological characteristics related to expressed readiness for change and actual physical changes over the course of intervention. Data from 334 children, with an average age of 11 were included. The hypotheses yielded insignificant results for the majority of the analyses, with the exception of a significant inverse relationship between physical self-concept and age, and between gender and self-reported depression. This study reflects that in the pediatric overweight population, younger children express more positive body image than do older children, and females self-report a higher incidence of depression than do males. Further, this study indicates the need for future research in regards to body image and body esteem in this population.

LLU Discipline

Experimental Psychology




Graduate Studies

First Advisor

Kiti Freier

Second Advisor

David Chavez

Third Advisor

Kim Hamai

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Obesity -- Child -- dissertations; Obesity -- epidemiology -- United States; Obesity -- prevention & control -- Child; Health Behavior; Behavior Therapy; Risk Factors; Self Concept; Obesity in children; Health behavior -- Psychological aspects; Behavior modification; Health attitudes; Stress in children; Self-esteem



Page Count

ix; 47

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives