Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Science)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Adriana Campa

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Catherine Coccia

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Fatma G. Huffman

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Florence George

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition, Medical Nutrition, Other Public Health, Other Social and Behavioral Sciences, Public Health Education and Promotion

Date of Defense



Kuwait has the highest prevalence of obesity within Arab countries at 37.8%. The prevalence of childhood obesity, believed to be a reliable measure of future obesity, is increasing in there year after year. However, the potential effect of any type of preventive measures has not been adequately studied. Therefore, this dissertation aimed to increase awareness of long-term risks of childhood obesity among children and their mothers. Additionally, to assess the impact of the Healthy Habits (HH) program on changing eating behaviors among 6 to10 year-old children participating in summer camps.

Seventy-nine children participated in two summer camps for 8 weeks in Kuwait. One of these camps was randomly assigned to be the Healthy Habits group. The other camp was considered the comparison group. The HH intervention focused on changing eating behaviors based on the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT). Anthropometrics, body composition and changing in behaviors were measured at baseline and post intervention. After the 8-week nutrition education program, HH group significantly improved their eating behaviors and attitudes. There were also significant positive changes in self-efficacy among the HH group. In addition, those in the HH group maintained weight during the intervention while the comparison group gained weight [(-.1954 .537) vs (.4413 .406), P.001]. The body composition changes were also significantly associated with the nutrition education. There was a significant decrease in %Fat Mass in the HH group compared with the comparison group [(-1.495 .933) vs (.3763 .603) P.001]. Children in the intervention group with maternal support showed significant improvement in eating behavior and attitude compared with those without maternal support. Maternal eating behaviors and attitudes were also significantly changed by their participation.

In conclusion, the HH program had great impact on preventing and ameliorating childhood obesity as a long-term outcome. Indeed, the HH group changed their eating behaviors and body composition significantly when compared with the comparison group. In addition, focus on maternal involvement in this type of intervention to decrease childhood obesity, made it more successful. The outcomes of this study showed that maternal support in the intervention group promoted more positive changes compared to children receiving the intervention but without maternal support.





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