Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Clinton G. Gudmunson


Parents model and teach early health practices that persist into adulthood by establishing a foundation through which children understand related family beliefs, values, and expectations. The environment in which parents socialize children's eating, physical activity, and screen-related behaviors has changed and has been widely faulted in the obesity epidemic. This phenomenological study examined the intentions, reflections, and strategies in which a purposefully selected group of mothers, scoring highly on the Family Nutrition and Physical Activity screening tool, shaped family culture related to physical activity, addressed screen-time behaviors, and established positive eating related routines.

Findings related to mothers' knowledge and belief systems about parenting within this domain pointed to the impact of family health history and mothers' own upbringing, reinforcing the powerful nature of early habit formation. Mothers prioritized this parenting domain and were intentional in their efforts, describing the power of modeling positive obesity-related behaviors and creating a culture that promoted activity over sedentariness. By focusing on establishing positive behaviors at home, and framing choices and opportunities in support of child autonomy, mothers believed they were preparing children to resist threats from the obesigenic environment. This study presents a strengths perspective and imparts a new narrative which serves to complement existing obesity research in representative and at-risk populations. Findings may inform obesity prevention and intervention programs as well as parenting education curricula.


Copyright Owner

Jacy Downey



File Format


File Size

244 pages