Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Degree Level





Shreve, Marilou

Committee Member/Reader

Smith Blair, Nan

Committee Member/Second Reader

Henderson, Jaye



Introduction: Childhood obesity is a problem that leads to many serious health effects including early maturation, decreased quality of life and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. In 2012, over one third of children were considered obese (Childhood Obesity Facts 2015). Efforts have been made to reduce this number but they have not been fully successful (Nutrition Standards for School Meals 2015, Prevalence of Childhood obesity in the United States 2011-2012 2015). What other factors are causing kids to choose foods that lead to weight gain.

Literature Review: In research regarding psychological motivations of overeating, there has been a correlation between decreased executive function and overeating in a population of middle aged women (Manasse et al. 2014). It was also shown that when asked to complete a complex mental task, a person is more likely to choose an unhealthy food option (Truong and Sterm 2015). The body reacts similarly to the sight of food as it does to substances like cocaine (Cohen 2008, Executive Functions Profile 2012, Imaging Dopamine Transmission in Cocaine Dependence 2011). What makes certain individuals more susceptible to giving in to this urge?

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine how a child’s ability to make decisions may correlate with their weight status.

0: There is no statistically significant correlation between problem solving scores, as tested using “Word Generation” and “Animal Sorting, to BMI in 3rd grade children.

Methodology: The population was 3rd grade students at Pea Ridge Elementary School. Problem Solving skill was evaluated using the “Animal Sorting” and “Word Generation” sections of the NEPSY II assessment. These results were compared to Body Mass Index.

Results: Out of the 19 students in the final population, 3 were considered overweight, 3 underweight and 13 healthy weight. For the Animal Sorting Test, 3 students scored below average, 12 students scored average, and 3 students scored above average. Data was not recorded for two participants. For the Word Generation Semantic Test 4 students scored below average, 12 students scored average, and 2 students scored above average. For the Word Generation Initial Letter, 1 student scored below average, 12 students scored average and 5 students scored above average.

Analysis: Results were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA test. The results were not significant. The null hypothesis could not be accepted or rejected.

Conclusion: Because of limitations in population size, additional research would be beneficial to gain further knowledge about the association between problem-solving skill and BMI. Using a different tool for analysis may also provide more conclusive results.