Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Dr. Manoj Sharma


Childhood obesity is a major issue in the United States. The rates of obesity vary among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. South. The purpose of this quantitative cross-sectional study was to investigate significant state health disparities differences in childhood obesity in the South region between Florida and Georgia. To steer this study, the social cognitive theory was used. The associations between neighborhood safety and support, physical activity, family health and activities on body mass index were examined in this study. Data was obtained from the National Survey of Children's Health 2011-2012 on 1,688 children aged 10-17 years residing in Florida and Georgia. Logistic regression models showed children in Georgia were 1.4 times more likely to be overweight/obese than children in Florida. Significant differences were found in Florida and Georgia for neighborhood safety and support, physical activity, and family health and activities with evidence to reject the null hypothesis for each state separately. There was no evidence to reject significant differences between Florida and Georgia on sociodemographics. Public health professionals could benefit from researchers studying the causes of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities in childhood obesity. Thus, professionals could use these results to develop programs targeted at minority populations at increased risk. Positive social change implications of these finding could provide more insight on childhood obesity in the South, where more research is vital. This could be achieved through creating state-specific policies, raising awareness, and implementing prevention programs to decrease childhood obesity.