Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Health

Committee Chair

Vikki Nolan

Committee Member

Fawaz Mzayek

Committee Member

Meredith Ray

Committee Member

Karen Derefinko


Sims Taylor, Lauren M., PhD. The University of Memphis. December 2018. Early childhood weight status and its effects on socioemotional development, school readiness, and cognition.Major Professor: Vikki Nolan, DSc, MPHChildhood obesity is associated with negative health and social outcomes in school-age children. These effects range from absenteeism and poor self-esteem to worse test scores, and fewer completed grades. Although previous studies have found these associations in school-age children and adolescents, less is known about this association in young children, who are just beginning school. Additionally, many studies of the outcomes of obesity are limited by cross-sectional study designs. These projects attempted to examine three distinct effects of obesity in early childhood by using a novel strategy: trajectory analysis. Using yearly data from the Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early childhood (CANDLE) study, a prospective birth cohort study in Memphis, TN, we categorized child participants into one of four BMI percentile group trajectories. Linear regression was used to examine the association between these trajectories and school readiness, socioemotional development, and cognition. Crude analysis in all three studies yielded no significant associations. Once potential confounders were included in the models, there was still no association between trajectory group and the outcomes. Maternal education, insurance type, and childs race were significant predictors of school readiness, with insurance type having the largest effect. Children with private insurance, compared to children with public insurance, had higher average scores by 1.64 and 1.73 points for girls and boys, respectively. Maternal education was a significant predictor of score on all eight outcome scales that measured socioemotional development, with children of mothers without a college degree having higher average scores on the total problems scales by 3.60 points, compared to children of mothers with a college degree or more education. Childs race was a significant predictor of the score on two outcome scales. Maternal education, maternal marital status, insurance type, and child race were all significant predictors of IQ in girls. Maternal education, insurance type, and child race were significant predictors of IQ in boys. Girls and boys who have private insurance, compared to girls who have public insurance, have higher average IQs by 4.58 and 4.67 points, respectively.


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Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest