Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Raymond Thron


The application of geographic information systems was used to map obesogenic conditions by zip code tabulation areas in Durham County, North Carolina and evaluated associations between those conditions and the understudied area of early childhood obesity. Of the thirty one percent of the children in Durham County, North Carolina who were considered obese in 2010, four hundred and thirty three (1:5) 2 - 4 year old children who received supplemental nutrition services for women, infants and children were obese with BMI levels greater or equal to the 95th percentile and were used as the criterion variable in the study (N=433). The study's research questions examined conditions of the neighborhood that impeded the weight status of young children. The theoretical framework included the environmental stress, socioeconomic, multiple exposures-multiple effects, and attachment theories. The twenty - six variables used in this secondary quantitative study included demographics on socioeconomic and education levels, home occupancy and vacancy rates, age of homes, and neighborhood accessibility features: access to parks; recreation facilities; grocery stores verses convenience stores; fast food restaurants; medical facilities; schools; day cares; and neighborhood incivilities such as numbers of reported crimes. The t - test were configured as Grouping Variables with the cut-point of 18.7% and with an Alpha of .05 and produced statistical significance on five of twenty - six variables. A mean rate of 19.3% yielded statistical significance on ten of twenty - six variables. The Levene's Test for Equality of Variances expressed assumptions on scores met for statistical significance on t-test at the Alpha = 0.05 level for twenty - four of the twenty - six variables. The results of this study would possibly increase the use of the innovative geographic information systems to inform policy decisions, environmental interventions and environmental design on obesogenic correlates between the understudied area of early childhood obesity and the built environment.