Masters Thesis

Afterschool Social Work Family Lifestyle Development Program

This report proposes to increase prevention of childhood onset obesity (COO) through a 41-week afterschool social work lifestyle intervention program teaching nutrition, cooking, and healthy eating habits to middle school students and their families. Research shows that COO heightens risk of catastrophic chronic health conditions. Using evidenced based techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as practiced by Judith Beck Ph.D. and Motivational Interviewing (MI) as practiced by Miller and Rollnick, the social worker will empower participants to make healthier lifestyle choices including adopting better eating habits and more physical activity. Participants will be voluntary, minority, low income, at risk children and families. Research questions of this project include the impacts of two factors: participatory parental engagement and use of evidence-based social work techniques on families' rates of change and degrees of success with respect to healthy lifestyle changes. This project hypothesizes that the inclusion of specific, evidenced-based social work counseling and parental engagement in hands-on participation with their child/children will decrease predicted catastrophic outcomes such as diabetes and kidney disease through lifestyle enhancements. If successful and instituted widely, rates of obesity and diabetes-linked complications could decrease dramatically. Projected to society, the pain and suffering of the afflicted and their families will decrease. The projected billions of dollars for procedures for catastrophic conditions such as amputations, dialysis, and cancer treatments could decline for the benefit of all. A Program Evaluation Plan follows. Longitudinal study with a greater sample size is advisable because of the small sample size and the short duration of the program.

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