Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

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

Committee Chair

Teresa Waters, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martha Riddell, DrPH, MPH

Committee Member

Richard Ingram, DrPH



The purpose of this project is to determine whether there is an association between socioeconomic factors and complications of obesity in adult women in the United States based on the national 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data.

Dependent variables were categorized as complications associated with obesity in adult, obese women. BRFSS items that referenced objective measures regarding chronic obesity-related complications included items such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and breast cancer diagnosis. Two measures relating to participants’ socioeconomic status were also used as independent variables. BRFSS items that referenced objective measures regarding socioeconomic status are educational attainment, and income level. Annual household income labeled less than $25,000 was considered to be low income and high school or less is considered to be low educational attainment. Community characteristics such as living alone, living in a rural area, marital status, health insurance, and forgoing care due to cost were also assessed to determine the likelihood of any obesity-related complication as a function of sociodemographic and social determinants of health.

It was expected that higher educational attainment and income would be associated with a lower probability of having an obesity-related complication, among obese women. This hypothesis was supported by my data analyses. Secondarily, I found that obese women who live alone and live in rural neighborhoods have an increased probability of having an obesity-related complication. Low income, when controlling for age and other sociodemographics, and women who reported forgoing care due to cost resulted in a higher probability of an obesity-related complication.

This analysis provides guidance for the target population where a holistic intervention approach to health as the population ages, considering factors such as social and financial support in addition to clinical care has the potential to reduce the probability of obesity-related complications and improve quality of life.

Available for download on Sunday, April 21, 2024

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