Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Carolyn Bates

Training Track: Clinical

Lab: Activity Matters Lab

Advisor: Amy Bohnert, Ph.D. 

Office: Coffey Hall 207

Email: cbates3@luc.edu

Webpage: activitymatterslab.org


contextual influences on health behaviors in pediatric populations

Masters Thesis Title

Summertime Sleep and BMI in Urban Minority Girls: Relations to Physical Activity and Executive Functions

Masters Thesis Abstract

Urban minority youth, particularly females, are at high risk for increased weight gain during the summertime months, and may also experience insufficient sleep at this time.   Few studies have objectively measured summertime sleep in this population or related sleep to weight gain during this season.  The current study draws on a sample of 66 urban minority girls aged 10-to-14 who participated in a community-based summer day camp program promoting physical activity (PA).   The study objectively characterizes sleep in this sample, both in unstructured and structured contexts. Additionally, the study examines potential pathways underlying summertime relations between sleep and weight, including PA and executive functions (EFs).  Data were collected at a community-based summer day camp program at two time points: prior to beginning programming (T1; unstructured context) and during the final week of programming (T2; structured context).  At both time points, participants experienced shorter nighttime sleep than is recommended for their age, and African American girls recorded significantly less sleep than Latina girls only when not engaged in programming.  Furthermore, findings suggest that wake times may play a particularly influential role in youths’ abilities to obtain adequate sleep.  Mediation models were not significant, however, research with a larger sample is needed to adequately address mechanisms underlying relations between sleep and BMI.  Overall, summertime sleep is an understudied health behavior that may be important to consider among minority youth. 

Masters Thesis Committee

Amy Bohnert, PhD (chair), & Grayson Holmbeck, PhD

Dissertation Title

Family Entropy: Definition and Influence on Health Behaviors and Weight in School-Aged Children

Dissertation Abstract

High rates of child overweight and obesity place youth at risk for a multitude of short- and long-term health consequences. To inform effective prevention and intervention, it is imperative to identify risk and protective factors in children’s primary environments, including the home. The level of organization/disorganization within the home environment may influence child health behaviors and weight, but the literature to-date has suffered from the lack of a strong overarching conceptualization. Family entropy is a novel construct that fills this gap by representing the overall level of organization/disorganization across the home environment. The current study is the first to define and assess family entropy in a longitudinal sample of 989 children measured yearly from grades 3-6 as part of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The study will examine the direct influence of family entropy on child weight and two health behaviors as mediators of this link (i.e., sleep and physical activity). The study will account for the influence of socioeconomic factors, and will and consider differential influence of the family entropy on health behaviors and weight among lower- and higher-SES subgroups. Variables were measured by means of observation and semi-structured parent interviews, parent-reported questionnaires, and accelerometry. Analyses will be conducted using a primarily Structural Equation Modeling approach.

Dissertation Committee

Amy Bohnert, PhD (chair), Joanna Buscemi, PhD, Fred Bryant, PhD, & Elizabeth Wakefield, PhD