Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology & Public Health Education

First Advisor

Tanis J. Hastmann


Background: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17% of children are obese. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to become overweight adults. Children's snack choice has shifted from healthy to unhealthy (primarily salty and sweet option), and since children's snack consumption makes up 27% of their total energy intake, it is important to understand influences of their snack choice.

Purpose: To examine the effect of sedentary and physical activities on children's food choice.

Method: Participants included a volunteer sample of children (n=24) ranging from 9-13 years old. Children's height and weight were measured and BMI was calculated using age, height, weight, and gender. Children participated in three conditions. Condition 1 was 60 minutes of sedentary activity (watching movies). Condition 2 was 60 minutes of physical activity. Condition 3 was a mix of sedentary (45 min) and physical (15 min) activities. After each condition, the children were asked to choose one snack from 2 healthy and 2 unhealthy options. The children were randomly placed in groups of four for one of the six possible condition sequences determined by when they enrolled in the study. SPSS was used to assess the data.

Results: Participants had a mean age of 10.6, 13 were male (54.2%) and 19 were normal weight (79.2%) who completed the study. Overall, there was not a statistically significant difference in the overall model comparing the three conditions on snack choice (p=0.15). Wilcoxon Signed Rank Post-Hoc analysis showed a trend in children more likely choosing an unhealthy snack option after the SED compared to PA conditions (p=0.06). There was not a significant difference between boys and girls for snack choice after any of the PA (p>0.05), SED (p>0.05), and mixed conditions (p>0.05). Overweight/obese children were more likely than normal weight children to choose a healthier snack option after the PA condition (p=0.02).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest overweight/obese children tend to choose healthier snack options after a 60 minute bout of PA (p=0.02). Promoting physical activity to children who are overweight/obese could potentially lead to losing weight overtime by decreasing energy intake and increasing energy expenditure.