Julie Benavides

Date Approved


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Spencer, Leslie


Obesity in adolescence


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


The primary purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the experiences of obese adolescents and to investigate middle and high school students' attitudes toward obese students. During phase one, quantitative data was collected through the Attitude Toward Obese Persons (ATOP) survey. The survey research sample was 1448 middle and high school students. The quantitative data was analyzed through cross gender and grade level comparisons. Results indicated both female and male students in middle school and high school have a slightly positive attitude toward obese students. During phase two, qualitative data was collected through focus groups with 5 middle school boys and one on one interviews with 2 middle school girls. Phase two findings revealed emergent themes of experiences within sports, school, and family for male adolescent participants and friends, school, and family for female adolescent participants. All participants described detailed experiences they face as a result of their overweight status. Implications were suggested for the Southern New Jersey school district board of education and future researchers.