Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Childhood obesity and its associated health consequences, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, have dramatically increased over the past 30 years, with the greatest rise in African-American female children and adolescents. Although current prevention efforts show promising results, recent genetic findings may soon expand treatment strategies to include new medications and gene therapies specifically designed to prevent the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children. However, little is known about the acceptability of these interventions. The primary aim of this study was to examine the hypothetical impact of genetic knowledge on treatment acceptability in the prevention of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. This study compared the effects of ethnicity (African-American, Caucasian), maternal weight status (Normal, Overweight/Obese), and genetic predisposition to obesity or diabetes on mothers’ perceptions of six interventions for their children: no treatment, dietary change, physical activity, medication, family lifestyle change, and gene therapy. Ethnicity and parent weight have both been found to influence outcomes in weight-loss programs. Thus, the design of the study was a 2 (ethnicity) x 2 (weight status) x 2 (type of problem) x 6 (treatment) multi-factorial design. Participants were 146 females whose children were between the ages of 2 and 17 years. Using the Treatment Evaluation Inventory-short form (Kelley, Heffer, Gresham, & Elliott, 1989), mothers rated the acceptability of the six strategies for their children. General findings suggest that mothers viewed the behavioral and lifestyle strategies as acceptable prevention interventions, whereas they considered the medical strategies (and no treatment at all) as unacceptable alternatives. Heightened disease risk of type 2 diabetes increased acceptability for all forms of treatment, specifically medication. However, gene therapy was generally ranked as more acceptable than medication, suggesting that mothers might consider this treatment option instead of medication when more intrusive strategies are preferred. Overall, these findings provide a basis for future investigations of the impact of genetic knowledge on treatment and prevention choices. These findings are further discussed within the framework of future marketing strategies directed at potential consumers.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Donald A. Williamson



Included in

Psychology Commons