Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Dorothy McLeod Loren

Dorothy McLeod Loren
Training Track: Clinical
Lab: Activity Matters Lab  
Advisor: Amy Bohnert, Ph.D. 
Office: Coffey Hall 208


Dorothy's research interests lie in the development of child health disparities, with a particular focus on cultural and contextual influences on obesogenic behaviors. 

Masters Thesis Title

Measures of Acculturation and Relations to Weight among Mexican-Origin Youth

Masters Thesis Abstract

This study examines the cross-sectional relations between several measures of acculturation and child zBMI, as well as the 12-month longitudinal relations between these measures and child BMI (adjusted for age and gender), in a sample of 102 6- to 11-year-old, Mexican-origin youth. Cross-sectional results indicated that two measures, greater preference for English and higher Anglo Orientation, were positively associated cross-sectionally with higher zBMI (p = 0.002 and p = 0.011, respectively). Only English language preference remained significant in longitudinal analyses (p = 0.047). Parental duration of residence and the child's number of immigrant parents were not significantly associated with zBMI cross-sectionally or BMI longitudinally. These findings suggest that language proxy measures of acculturation present similar findings to multidimensional measures when assessing child weight and support the idea that behavioral or emotional changes that accompany integration into US culture may contribute to obesity development.

Masters Thesis Committee

Amy Bohnert, PhD; Joanna Buscemi, PhD; Catherine DeCarlo Santiago, PhD

Dissertation Title

An Ecological Model of Childhood Obesity Development: Identifying Targets for Tailored Intervention

Dissertation Abstract

This study utilizes structural equation modeling to apply and test an ecological model of childhood obesity in a nationally-representative sample of 8225 children from kindergarten until second grade. It finds that the “control” variable of income-to-needs ratio was a particularly influential factor in obesity during kindergarten, such that children whose families fell below 200% of the poverty line were more likely to weigh more. In addition, findings suggest that, among individual, family, and community factors, individual factors were most influential, and that screen time was the most influential of these. Finally, this study advances the literature by exploring how the fit of this model may differ among children of differing demographic characteristics, finding that income-to-needs ratio is particularly influential for weight among Hispanic/Latino children as opposed to Black/African American Children. All in all, this study drives home the structural, public health origins and implications of the child obesity epidemic: while obesity is often thought of as the burden of individuals or families, it is clear that larger demographic factors are key as well as—and perhaps more than—the most proximal individual factors, particularly for some racial/ethnic minority groups.

Dissertation Committee

Bohnert, Bryand, Li-Grining, Buscemi