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Child Obes. 2016 Oct;12(5):348-59. doi: 10.1089/chi.2016.0003. Epub 2016 May 4.

Mediating Mechanisms of Theory-Based Psychosocial Determinants on Behavioral Changes in a Middle School Obesity Risk Reduction Curriculum Intervention, Choice, Control, and Change.

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1 Program in Nutrition, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College Columbia University , New York, NY.
2 Department of Sociology, William Paterson University , Wayne, NJ.



A limited number of school-based intervention studies have explored mediating mechanisms of theory-based psychosocial variables on obesity risk behavior changes. The current study investigated how theory-based psychosocial determinants mediated changes in energy balance-related behaviors (EBRBs) among urban youth.


A secondary analysis study was conducted using data from a cluster randomized controlled trial. Data from students at 10 middle schools in New York City (n = 1136) were used. The intervention, Choice, Control, and Change curriculum, was based on social cognitive and self-determination theories. Theory-based psychosocial determinants (goal intention, cognitive outcome expectations, affective outcome expectations, self-efficacy, perceived barriers, and autonomous motivation) and EBRBs were measured with self-report questionnaires. Mediation mechanisms were examined using structural equation modeling, Results: Mediating mechanisms for daily sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and purposeful stair climbing were identified. Models with best fit indices (root mean square error of approximation = 0.039/0.045, normed fit index = 0.916/0.882; comparative fit index = 0.945/0.932; Tucker-Lewis index = 0.896/0.882, respectively) suggested that goal intention and reduced perceived barriers were significant proximal mediators for reducing SSB consumption among both boys and girls or increasing physical activity by stair climbing among boys. Cognitive outcome expectations, affective outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and autonomous motivation indirectly mediated behavioral changes through goal intention or perceived barriers (p < 0.05 to p < 0.001). The final models explained 25%-27% of behavioral outcome variances.


Theory-based psychosocial determinants targeted in Choice, Control, and Change in fact mediated behavior changes in middle school students. Strategies targeting these mediators might benefit future success of behavioral interventions. Further studies are needed to determine other potential mediators of EBRBs in youth.

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