Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Jeanne Connors


Obesity continues to weaken our nation physiologically, psychologically and financially with an overall prevalence rate of 34.9% or 78.6 million Americans affected. Variance in obesity prevalence rates, in the state of Virginia, account for over a 15% difference from one health district to the next. The purpose of this research was to better explore the regional obesogenic factors that may exist among five health districts in the state of Virginia. The socio ecological theory provides the conceptual framework of the study to understand the variance in regional obesity rates, as a function of the contributing risk factors that a region exhibits. This study was a quantitative retrospective secondary analysis that investigated four obesogenic risk factors using the Center for Disease Control's 2013 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted for each of the four obesity factors in five regions in Virginia and the results emphasized that specific regional obesity prevention efforts in targeted areas are identifiable and specifically, attention to ethnicity, poverty, and exercise intensity are warranted in all Virginia's health districts. Understanding obesogenic factors can further empower public policy makers to identify obesity prevention and treatment strategies most aligned with the health district needs such as exercise or nutrition campaigns targeting ethnic communities. Creating a statewide profile of regional obesogenic factors using this research model can bring about effective community intervention strategies leading to impactful improvements in individual health, wellness, and quality of life which can be a force in the community's positive social change.