Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

Jerry Grenard

Reader 2

Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert

Rights Information

© 2012 Bayley E. Clarke


Adolescent obesity is an important public health issue, and one important factor that contributes to the problem is overeating, eating more than required for homeostasis. Appetitive behaviors such as overeating may in part be the result of poor control of impulsive behavior. This study investigated the relationship between impulsivity factors and snacking habits. The Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire (YAQ) and the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS) were completed by 198 Southern California high school students (56% female; age M=15.8, SD=0.9). Four subscales were calculated from responses on the YAQ and included the frequency of consuming sweetened drinks, sweet snacks, salty snacks, and fresh fruits. Multiple regression was used to determine the association of the YAQ subscales with the six first-order impulsivity factors in the BIS after adjusting for age, gender, and SES (mother and father education). Self-control impulsivity was positively associated with salty snack consumption. Both sweet snacks and drinks had a positive correlation with cognitive complexity. Finally, perseverance had a positive association with sweet snacks. Fruit consumption had no association with impulsivity levels. This is the first study of which we are aware that examined the association between snacking behaviors and the first-order factors for impulsivity in the BIS. It is beneficial to understand the processes behind snacking decisions so we can intervene to help adolescents make better food choices. Snacking is likely to be under the control of the adolescent compared, for example, to meals prepared at home by a parent or guardian. As a result, targeting snacking habits with interventions among adolescents may be an effective approach to reducing obesity.