Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Scott McDoniel


The prevalence of obesity has doubled over the past 25 years in the United States, particularly in North Carolina. Obesity is influenced by biological, social, and environmental factors; its prevalence has been found to be higher among African American women and other racial ethnic minorities. Guided by the social ecological model, the purpose of this cross sectional study was to examine the relationship of the psycho-social, psycho-behavioral factors, and body mass index levels (BMI) in African American women living in North Carolina versus their Hispanic American and European American counterparts. A logistic regression model using secondary data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System revealed a significant association in income levels, house hold size, dietary intake, physical activity, and increased BMI levels in African American women. African American women were significantly more likely to be obese (r = 0.93 p > 0.05) compared to European American and Hispanic American women. The association of each variable to BMI assessed for African American women was as follows: income (r = 0.46, p = 0.001), dietary intake (r = 0.-17, p = 0.04), household size (r = 0.57, p = 0.001), physical activity (r = -0.16, p = 0.05), depression (r = 0.37, p = 0.001), and alcohol consumption (r = 0.39, p = 0.001). A culturally sensitive weight loss model addressing the psycho-behavioral and psychosocial risk factors that negatively influence BMI and subsequently obesity is warranted for African American women living in North Carolina to promote social change and decrease the incidence of obesity in this ethnic group.