Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Angela Carman, DrPh

Committee Member

Kathryn Cardarelli, PhD

Committee Member

Mark Swanson, PhD


Obesity is a significant problem in the United States; however, it is a burgeoning epidemic among youth in the United States. As of 2016, Alabama is the second-most obese state in the nation1 and 16% of Alabama adolescents are obese2. While obesity is a significant problem across all ethnic groups, minorities bear a disproportionate burden in Alabama: one in five African-American adolescents is obese2. This disproportionate burden is demonstrated in two Alabama counties: Wilcox and Lowndes. Both counties are predominately African-American and rank in the bottom ten counties, statewide, for overall health outcomes9,14. Nearly 50% of residents in both counties are obese9,14 compared to the national average of 36.5%1. Several health indicators have been identified as possible contributors to the obesity epidemic in these counties: food insecurity, unemployment rates, poverty, poor dietary practices and physical inactivity. To mitigate the obesity prevalence among African-American teenagers in these counties, the Alabama Department of Public Health will implement the Smart Moves Bright Bodies program. Smart Moves Bright Bodies is a weight management program designed for obese and overweight adolescents. The program includes three components: physical activity, nutrition education, and behavior modification. The program is also designed to strengthen the family unit as parents and students are encouraged to identify healthier coping strategies and to prepare meals with healthier ingredients. Various partners such as the YMCA and local grocery stores will also help with reinforcement of sessions. The aim of the program is to help teenagers maintain a healthy weight while encouraging uptake of healthier lifestyle behaviors.

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