Date of Conferral





Public Health


Michael Dunn


Obesity is a major public health crisis, affecting every segment of the U.S. population. African American women have higher prevalence of obesity than all other subpopulations and are disproportionately burdened by the disease and its comorbidities. Despite this disparity, African American women are often underrepresented in obesity research. This research examined obesity-related risk factors specific to African American women compared to those for Caucasian women. The design was based on the socioecological model and social cognitive theory, both emphasizing the impact of social factors on health outcomes. The data set included only adult Michigan women from the NHANES study. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted for each race (African American and Caucasian), with obesity status as the outcome; area-level factor residence status, the main predictor; and age, education, and income the controlling factors. The results indicated that residence status is a major predictor of obesity for African American women, with renters having an increased (OR= 1.501, p = 0.025) odds relative to homeowners. In contrast, for Caucasian women, income (p = .000), and education (p = .011) were both significant, but residence status was not (p = .237). These results highlight the differences between African American and Caucasian women’s obesity risk factors and emphasize the importance of researching obesity in African American women separately. The positive social impact includes developing obesity interventions and health education programs that address the social factors involved.