Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

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

Committee Chair

Mark Swanson

Committee Member

Marc Kiviniemi

Committee Member

Jerod Stapleton


Obesity prevalence is at an alarmingly high rate within the United States, but especially in rural areas of Kentucky. Obesity can lead to a variety of negative physical health outcomes including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. There are also mental disorders associated with obesity through mechanisms such as weight stigma and self-perception. Similar to obesity rates, prevalence and mortality associated of these health outcomes are also seen at disproportionately higher rates in rural, Appalachian Kentucky. Causes for increased obesity and obesity related consequences include some genetic factors as well as behavioral factors like physical inactivity, poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep.

Pike County, Kentucky is one of the Appalachian areas affected by obesity and obesity related consequences. The University of Pikeville students are a population within Pike County that are at increased risk of developing these same issues due to the poor eating habits present amongst college students and lack of concern towards chronic disease development at this life stage. However, due to university resources and capacity for collaboration, UPike students also present an opportunity for positive change during this developmental stage.

The “Fork It Program” addresses the problem of poor diet for UPike students by engaging them in a nutrition app and changing the food environment through a satellite farmer’s market. Fork It will be adapted as an evidence-informed intervention using the protocol from “Use of Wearable Technology and Social Media to Improve Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviors among College Students: A 12-Week Randomized Pilot Study” (Pope et al., 2019). Tech based interventions like nutrition apps have been proven to work in this population by providing social support and personalized feedback to increase diet awareness and knowledge. Changes to the food environment have also been shown to be effective especially when paired with recipe delivery. The Fork It Program will partner with the Pike County Extension office to secure farmer’s market vendors and UPike’s Student Government Association (SGA) for app dissemination. These organizations provide expertise and already existing networks that will assist in program implementation.

The specific aims of the Fork It Program are:

  1. Facilitate strong and sustainable partnerships with Extension and SGA to conduct program activities at the University of Pikeville
  2. Implement a nutrition app and satellite market at the University of Pikeville to reach 2,700 students per year
  3. Improve dietary behaviors of students at the University of Pikeville including increased home meal preparation and produce consumption
  4. Evaluate the impact of the Fork It app on students’ attitudes and knowledge regarding nutrition

Included in

Public Health Commons