Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Systems (MSNFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Dietetics and Human Nutrition

First Advisor

Dr. Janet Mullins


Rural Americans are medically underserved groups and are at greater risk of becoming obese than urban Americans. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine the perceived causes of obesity in six counties of rural Kentucky and to determine how to customize strategies to reduce obesity in these areas. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Agents formed coalitions in each of the six counties to assess their communities’ needs and assets to inform plans for implementing evidence-based obesity interventions. Between February and August of 2015, the coalitions were convened for a total of 11 meetings. Each of the coalition meetings was audio recorded, transcribed, and coded using NVivo 11 qualitative analysis software. Coalition members in these rural counties of Kentucky recognized aspects of their culture, poor dietary choices, and inactivity as the major reasons obesity is a problem in their county. Participants reported high prevalence of fast food restaurants, lack of access to healthy foods and physical activity resources, technology, and lack of time as barriers to healthy behaviors. These findings provide insight to inform tailored, evidence-based interventions for rural communities. Improving access to healthy foods and physical activity resources in rural areas may improve healthy behaviors and reduce obesity prevalence.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)