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The fat and thin of it: neighborhood environment and obesity in the allegheny county health survey

Bowen-Salio, Sarah (2014) The fat and thin of it: neighborhood environment and obesity in the allegheny county health survey. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Approximately 35.1% of American adults are obese. There are significant health inequities in the prevalence of obesity. African Americans, those with low incomes and low educational achievement are significantly more likely to be obese. Obesity is also a risk factor for the development of many debilitating chronic conditions; deaths due to obesity are second behind cigarette smoking. Obesity costs are also staggering. It is estimated that up to 20.6% of national health spending is used to treat obesity-related diseases. Obesity is a complex problem and neighborhood environments are increasingly being studied in relation to their impact on obesity and other health issues. This study analyzes neighborhood impacts on obesity in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Many neighborhoods in Allegheny County have historical patterns of immigration and deindustrialization which impact health. Using data from the 2009-2010 Allegheny County Health Survey (N=5,442), this study has two major aims. One is to analyze the relationship between the neighborhood environment and obesity in Allegheny County. To that end, bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions are performed to determine if perceived neighborhood walkability, social cohesion, and access to fresh fruits and vegetables and fast food are related to obesity. The second major aim is to determine how perceived social support moderates these relationships. Specifically, does the neighborhood environment have a greater or lesser effect on obesity among those who report greater levels of social support? Results indicate that perceived neighborhood walkability is significantly associated with obesity in Allegheny County, while perceived neighborhood social cohesion and access to fresh fruits and vegetables and fast foods are not significantly associated with obesity. Additionally, perceived social support moderates the relationship between perceived neighborhood walkability and obesity, but not perceived neighborhood social cohesion. Additionally, results are interpreted through the lens of historical processes which have affected Allegheny County, such as immigration, urban renewal, and deindustrialization.
Public Health Significance: For those who perceive their neighborhoods to have low walkability, community development efforts to improve walkability as well as social support may help to lessen the probability of being obese.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bowen-Salio, Sarahsmb146@pitt.eduSMB146
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDocumét,
Committee MemberBear, Todd Mtobst2@pitt.eduTOBST2
Committee MemberMair , Christinacmair@pitt.eduCMAIR
Committee MemberMuller, Edwardekmuller@pitt.eduEKMULLER
Date: 30 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 August 2014
Approval Date: 30 September 2014
Submission Date: 20 July 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 128
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: neighborhood environment, obesity, social support
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2014 12:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:22


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