Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Jean D. Skinner

Committee Members

Thomas C. Hood, Greer Fox, Betty Ruth Carruth


Peer influence on snack food selections and nutrient intake from snacks was investigated in adolescents during pregnancy and at 12 months postpartum. Seventy pregnant (PG) adolescents completed two 24-hour food recalls, one two-day food record, and a Peer Influence Questionnaire (PIQ) pertaining to participation with close friends in various activities and discussions (including nutrition- and food-related). Fifty-three of the 70 PG adolescents brought a peer to an interview session and participated with this peer in a Snack Food Selection Activity. Thirty-two of the PG adolescents also completed at postpartum (PP) the food records/recalls and the PIQ; an additional 27 adolescents who were not part of the N=70 PG sample completed food records/recalls during pregnancy and at postpartum. One hundred eighty-five never-pregnant (NP) adolescents completed one 24-hour food recall and the PIQ. An additional 16 pregnant, 13 postpartum, and 36 never-pregnant adolescents participated in focus group discussions about peer influence on adolescents' food-related behavior (FRB).

There were relatively few significant differences in nutrient intake per 1,000 kcal among the PG, PP, and NP adolescents' snacks with peers, while alone, and with family members. There were no differences in PG and PP adolescents' snacks with peers. Compared to the NP adolescents' nutrient intake at snacks with peers, the (1) PG adolescents exhibited significantly higher intakes of protein, monounsaturated fat, riboflavin, and calcium and (2) PP adolescents consumed significantly higher amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.

The Snack Food Selection Activity did not identify any peer influence on PG adolescents' snack food choices. However, the pregnant, postpartum, and never-pregnant focus group members suggested that peers can influence adolescents' FRB by introducing them to new foods, cuisines, and restaurants. There were no differences in the (1) number of hours that PG/PP and NP adolescents had free to spend with friends or (2) frequencies of participation and discussion of the NP and PP adolescents for various activities and topics (including nutrition- and food-related) with close friends. The NP adolescents more frequently participated in active activities and in discussions of church and social issues and appearance issues than the PG adolescents.

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