Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Mary L. Gutierrez


African Americans disproportionately develop cardiovascular disease risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in comparison to European Americans. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations of diet quality and physical activity with blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels among African Americans. The social ecological model was the theoretical foundation for the study. Research questions were designed to examine the extent to which diet quality and physical activity predict blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels. The research design was quantitative cross-sectional secondary analysis of 959 participants. After controlling for demographic factors, body mass index, and energy intake, there was a potential nonlinear association between the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet and blood pressure levels. Multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analysis showed that a fourth-quintile DASH score significantly predicted blood pressure (OR: 0.57; 95% CI [0.35, 0.93]). There was no association between the DASH diet and cholesterol levels. Physical activity was not significantly associated with blood pressure levels or cholesterol levels. Researchers can use these findings to replicate large prospective studies. In addition, findings may be used to promote positive social change by healthcare professionals including dieticians and clinicains, as well as health promotion advocates and other institutions or individuals with public health interest.