Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




The purpose of this study was to describe the attitudes and beliefs about obesity held by school professionals working with adolescents in a primarily rural, Midwestern region of the United States. The concern is that school professionals most likely to interact with adolescents regarding obesity may hold negative attitudes and beliefs about obesity, thus creating a negative environment for obese adolescents. This study partially replicated an urban-based study by utilizing sections of the questionnaire related to attitudes and beliefs about obesity. Fifty-eight science, health, home economics, and physical education teachers, and school nurses, social workers, and counselors working with adolescents completed the questionnaire. Demographic characteristics of this study’s sample were similar to the characteristics of the urban-based study sample. Results showed that overall attitudes about obesity were positive and respondents did not associate negative characteristics such as untidy, unsuccessful, or having different personalities with obesity. In addition, most respondents acknowledged the multifactorial nature of the development of obesity, such as factors controlled by as well as beyond the control of an obese individual. Attitudes and beliefs regarding obese persons did not differ in accordance with the participants’ personal weight issues and weight satisfaction. Additionally, school professionals holding more positive attitudes about obesity were somewhat less likely to support school-based programs aimed at preventing obesity. School professionals holding stronger beliefs that obesity is beyond the control of the obese individual were somewhat more likely to support school-based programs aimed at treating obesity. Since school professionals are in a position to interact in a natural learning environment with large numbers of adolescents, they are in a unique position to assist with school-based programs aimed at prevention and treatment of obesity among adolescents. Education for school professionals, from nurses and other health care providers, aimed at exploring various attitudes, beliefs, and the complex nature of obesity need to be implemented to support healthy environments for obese adolescents.