Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Deborah L. Slawson

Committee Members

Megan Quinn, Mary Ann Littleton


This study examined the TPB constructs of attitude, perceived behavioral control, and subjective norms and their ability to predict healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among adolescents living in Southern Appalachia. The study also considered the relative utility of subjective norms and social support in predicting these behaviors. Data for this research were derived from a larger study, Team Up for Healthy Living, conducted September 2011 through November 2014 with high school students in the Appalachian region (Study ID: R01MD006200 from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities). Participants (n=963) completed a three-part paper survey collecting data about eating habits, physical activity, sedentary behaviors, weight status, and demographics. Study results indicated more than half of the study population was classified as overweight (20.7%) or obese (31.4%). They had high rates of physical activity, low rates of sedentary behavior, and healthy dietary behaviors, compared to national norms. Approximately, 42.8% reported drinking at least one soda daily and 42.9% consumed 1-6 sodas over the course of seven days. Multiple linear regression analysis indicated attitude (Beta = .110, t (824) = 2.83, p < .005) and perceived behavioral control (Beta = .147, t (824) = 3.14, p < .001) were the strongest predictors of healthy eating behaviors. For physical activity, the strongest predictors of behavior were attitude (Beta = .186, t (839) = 5.21, p < .001) and social support (Beta = .347, t (839) = 9.09, p < .001). Comparison of subjective norms and social support revealed subjective norms were a better predictor of healthy eating behaviors, and social support was a better predictor of physical activity. The results of this study indicate that behavior theories are effective at identifying motivating factors for health behaviors in unique populations.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.