Date of Conferral





Public Health


Shirley Gerrior


Physical activity is associated with many health benefits to include weight management, lower risk for chronic diseases, and improved mental health and self esteem. The built environment has been linked to lower physical activity levels and overweight and obesity in children living in low income communities but the exact causes need further investigation. The purpose of this quantitative, cross sectional study was to examine the association between parents' perception of safety and body mass index (BMI) percentile and children's physical activity/ inactivity levels and children's BMI as measured by the National Survey of Children's Health (2011/12 NSCH). The sample consisted of low income African American and Hispanic parents and their children between the ages of 6 to 17 (n=109) who live in Pennsylvania. The study used social ecological theory as the theoretical framework. Data analysis included descriptive analysis and Chi square analysis of variables related to safety, physical activity and children's BMI percentile. The results indicated a strong negative correlation of Hispanic parent's perception of safety and their children's BMI percentile, and a moderately negative correlation of African American parents' perception of safety and their children. In addition, a strong negative correlation of Hispanic parent's perception of vandalism and their children's BMI percentile was found. The study contributes to social change by increasing awareness of public health policy makers and officials that parental concerns for safety and vandalism should be considered in the creation of policies geared at reducing unsafe aspects of the community, the design of educational programs for parents and children, and alterations within communities to improve health.