Date of Completion


Embargo Period



African American, Fathers, Gender Role Conflict, Emotional Eating, Sons, Discrimination

Major Advisor

Ann M. Ferris

Associate Advisor

James O'Neil

Associate Advisor

Marysol Asencio

Field of Study

Public Health


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


African American adolescents suffer higher rates of obesity than European American adolescents. Greater prevalence in obesity among African American adolescent males is a particular concern for public health as adolescent obesity is linked to an increase in later life co-morbidities and earlier mortality, which African American adult males already experience at higher rates.

The goal of this dissertation was to understand socio-behavioral factors associated with obesity in African American adolescent males. To accomplish this goal, three different studies were conducted, including a systematic literature review. The systematic review examined research that focused on paternal influences on adolescent weight status.

Study 1 and 2 used the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent to understand the factors related to paternal nurturing and how the paternal nurturing affects obesity in Black American adolescents (13-17 years old). In study 1 (n=596), Black American adolescent males reported better relationships with their fathers than Black American females (β =3.14, p=p=.31), adolescents who perceived that they had more than enough (β=-6.34, p=p==507). In father-present households, nurturing father scores failed to attain significance (β=-0.53, p=.79). However in kinship households, closer nurturing father scores with social fathers was associated with lower weight status (β=-6.36, p=<.01).

Study 3 investigated the function of gender role conflict and everyday discrimination on adolescent obesity (15-19 years old) in solely African American father-son dyads. This was completed using an Actor Partner Interaction Mediation Model within a respondent driven sample population (n=118). In sons, emotional eating fully mediated the relationship between everyday discrimination and weight status (β=0.12, p=p=.03). In fathers, everyday discrimination (β=1.12, p=.01) and son’s gender role conflict (β=-0.40, p=.05) had an indirect effect on the relationship between emotional eating and weight status (β=0.08, p=.04). These findings have implications for fatherhood and obesity-reduction programs.