Date of Conferral





Public Health


Katie Callahan-Myrick


The steady raise in childhood obesity is a major public health problem nationally and globally. Childhood obesity is primarily caused by an imbalance between caloric intake and caloric expenditure. The increase in childhood obesity rates over the past 3 decades suggested involvement of environmental and behavioral factors in the obesity epidemic. While childhood obesity is considered a public health crisis in the United States, only limited research is available about the potential impact of neighborhood-level factors such as access to healthy food, neighborhood safety, and risk-free outdoor playgrounds. The purpose of this study was to examine if any relationships existed between childhood obesity and type of diet, level of physical activity, and neighborhood-level risk factors and childhood obesity. This study accessed the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) 2009-2014 data sets. Chi-square tests and multivariate logistic regression were used to evaluate the associations between independent and dependent variables. The Wald test was used to assess the effects of each individual predictor, while adjusting for other predictors. The findings of this study showed no significant associations between childhood obesity and neighborhood safety; parental educational level; presence of parks, playgrounds, or open spaces; neighborhood walkability; neighborhood safety and support; and gender. Low physical activity levels, however were a significant risk factor for increase obesity. This study may lead to positive social change, enhancing individual lives and whole communities, by drawing the awareness of public health officials and policy makers to the importance of neighborhood factors associated with high body mass index.

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