Date of Conferral





Public Health


Leslie Elliott


Mental health and obesity were ranked among the health priorities of the 2014 and 2017 Community Health Needs Assessments in Kent County, Michigan. Exposure to nature is correlated to improved health outcomes across a variety of morbidities including poor mental health and obesity. This cross-sectional study set within the frameworks of attention restoration theory, environmental health, and pathways to health benefits from nature assessed county survey data including self-reported nature exposures/interactions separated into 3 domain areas: access to nature, attitudes about nature, and physical activity in nature or in nature-based activities. Binary logistic regression analyses of the 653 respondents found that those who self-reported higher frequency of physical activity in nature or in nature-based activities possessed lower odds of also reporting poor mental health (p < .001, OR .652, 95% CI .535, .795) and obesity (p < .001, OR .666, 95% CI .548, .808) with each ascending level of agreement with the physical activity statement question. Ascending levels of agreement with the ease of access to nature statement question was found to be associated with lower odds of poor mental health (p < .001, OR .585, 95% CI .470, .797); however, no correlation was found between this variable and obesity status. The attitudes about nature domain statement questions were not consistently found to be associated with either mental health or obesity status. The significantly associated independent nature variables demonstrated weak effects (Nagelkerke R� < .300) on their respectively linked health outcomes. These findings may equip public health officials with information to develop more effective interventions for addressing mental health and obesity in their respective communities.