Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Dr. Vibha Kumar Committee Chairperson


Obesity is a profound health epidemic that adversely affects the health of all ethnicities. This growing health crisis has been found to be linked to several chronic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and several forms of cancer. As in Native American populations, increased morbidity and mortality rates associated with obesity prevalence in minority populations has been linked to variables such as income, education, mental illness, and age. The purpose of this research was to examine the association of obesity with socioeconomic status, education, mental illness, and age in Native American populations. The theoretical framework used in this study was based on the socioecological model. The rationale for selection of the socioecological model was that it would increase opportunities to achieve positive social change by educating and encouraging healthy behaviors for Native American youths and young adults so that learned behaviors would transcend to the interpersonal, community, and organizational levels of the model. A quantitative research approach was applied using secondary data from the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Descriptive, bivariate, and correlation analyses were used to examine the associations between variables believed to predict obesity in Native American populations. Results revealed that obesity was significantly associated with income level, education level and age level, but all relationships were noted as weak. Social change can be achieved by implementing new and improved policies to address the needs of Native American communities, as described in this study.