Teacher and Friend Social Support: Association with Body Weight in African-American Adolescent Females

Jevetta Stanford, Jagdish Khubchandani, Fern J. Webb, Jenny Lee, Michelle Doldren, Mobeen Rathore

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The purpose of this study was to examine the direct and indirect ecological influences of teacher and friend social support on body weight and diet behaviors in African-American adolescent females. Using a quantitative, cross-sectional research design, a convenience sample of 182 urban African-American adolescent females (12-17 years old) completed a 39-item questionnaire. The questionnaire assessed perceived teacher social support, friend social support, nutrition self-efficacy, and diet behaviors (with internal reliability values of scale items: alpha = 0.74, 0.81, 0.77, and 0.69 respectively). Anthropometric assessments were conducted to measure height and weight to compute BMI. Majority of the participants were in middle or early high school (65 %) and were overweight or obese (57.7 %). Both teacher social support and friend social support demonstrated a positive, indirect influence on child weight status through nutrition self-efficacy and diet behaviors following two different and specific paths of influence. Diet behaviors, in turn, demonstrated a positive, direct effect on child weight status. In the structural model, teacher social support had the greatest effect on diet behaviors, demonstrating a direct, positive influence on diet behaviors (B = 0.421, p < 0.05), but its direct effect on nutrition self-efficacy was not significant. Friend social support demonstrated a positive, direct effect on nutrition self-efficacy (B = 0.227, p < 0.05), but its direct effect on diet behaviors was not statistically significant. The study's findings call for actively addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in the school environment by implementing health behavior change strategies at various social and ecological environmental levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-364
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of racial and ethnic health disparities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015



  • Adolescent Females
  • African-American
  • Body weight
  • Obesity
  • School Health
  • Social Support

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