The Impact of a Mastery Motivational Climate on Obese and Overweight Children's Commitment to and Enjoyment of Physical Activity: A Pilot Study

By Griffin, Kent; Meaney, Karen et al. | American Journal of Health Education, January-February 2013 | Go to article overview

The Impact of a Mastery Motivational Climate on Obese and Overweight Children's Commitment to and Enjoyment of Physical Activity: A Pilot Study


Griffin, Kent, Meaney, Karen, Hart, Melanie, American Journal of Health Education


Background: Obese and overweight children are often cast as being lazy or unmotivated in regards to participation in physical activity. Purpose: Based on the social cognitive principle of triadic reciprocality, this pilot study was designed to examine the impact of a mastery motivational climate on overweight and obese children's commitment to, and enjoyment of, physical activity. Methods: Obese and overweight children (n = 43) enrolled in a summer physical activity and nutrition education program incorporating a mastery motivational climate served as participants in this investigation. Pre and post measures of the participants' commitment to, and enjoyment of, physical activity were assessed. In addition, accelerometer data were collected to assess the participants' engagement in physical activity. Results: The findings revealed a statistically significant difference in participants' enjoyment of and commitment to physical activity. In addition, physical activity data demonstrated that the participants engaged in more moderate bouts of physical activity in the program compared to their school-based physical education. Discussion: Obese and overweight children's commitment to and enjoyment of physical activity was stronger as a result of a mastery motivational intervention program. Participation in the program encouraged participants to engage in health-enhancing levels of physical activity. Translation to Health Education Practice: The results of this pilot study support the utilization of a mastery motivational climate to enhance overweight and obese children's participation in physical activity.

BACKGROUND

Obesity and Health-Related Illnesses

A plethora of health-related illnesses are associated with being obese or overweight. (1) For example, asthma, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes have all been linked to the epidemic. Individuals who are obese in adolescence also face a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as well as orthopedic disorders due to the added weight on joints. (2-4) As adults, obesity may also result in stroke, some forms of cancer, heart disease, and morbidity or mortality. Though the impact of activity on the overall health of children is important, it is also important to understand the mechanisms that may motivate youths who are overweight or obese to engage in regular physical activity. (5)

Studies investigating the effect of obesity and overweight on children's psychology reflect that obese and overweight children often suffer from low self-esteem, depression, negative body image, and low self-efficacy regarding physical activity pursuits. This research suggests that the environment may have an impact on the psychosocial development of adolescents. (6,7) In many instances, students are placed in situations where teachers, peers, and significant others ridicule and tease students because of their struggles with weight. (2,8) The retribution for overweight and obese students is further impacted by their physical appearance. During physical education, students who are overweight or obese may be required to wear clothes that display their poor weight condition. As a result, many of these children tend to avoid physical activity. In regard to academic performance, obesity and overweight are also associated with poorer grades, more school absences, and an increased risk of behavioral issues compared to children of normal weight. (9)

According to Dehghan et al., (10) physical activity, or lack of, is a major contributor to overweight issues in youth. Several studies support this notion and have indicated that sedentary activities like watching television and playing video games rather than playing outside increase the likelihood of obesity and overweight. (10-12) Thus, physical activity, and specifically the physical education setting, has been targeted as potential strategies to address the increasing obesity epidemic. However, it is possible that physical activity programs could have a detrimental effect on children's self-efficacy and motivation. …

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