Year of Publication

2007

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Executive Summary

Background:

Obesity is a major health issue in the United States and Fayette County. As Fayette County has become increasingly obese, it too has had an issue of sprawl within its urban service area and beyond. Relationships between obesity and aspects of the built environment are continuing to be studied.

Objective:

To evaluate the impact certain factors may have on the body mass index of Fayette County residents, in particular whether urban sprawl has an overriding impact on the weight of residents.

Methods:

The study area used was Fayette County, which was broken down into its fourteen zip code areas for analysis. Body Mass Index (BMI) averages were calculated from a phone survey for fifty residents in each of Fayette County’s fourteen ZIP code areas. A linear regression analysis was performed. The dependent variable used was BMI, with the independent variables being density (sprawl), distance from the downtown area, walking to work, driving to work, educational attainment, income level, and race.

Results:

Several factors in the study were shown to increase the BMI level in Fayette County, with urban sprawl slightly being one of those factors. However, due to the small sample size of my study, and possible other factors, the results were found to be insignificant. Further research possibly needs to be conducted in order to obtain valid results.

Conclusion:

It has been widely observed that urban sprawl is associated with higher rates of obesity. This observation has led many researchers to infer that urban sprawl causes obesity. This study examined the impact certain factors may have on the body mass index of Fayette County residents, in particular whether urban sprawl has an overriding impact on the weight of residents. Due to lack of significance, this study needs to be extended in order to make any inferences.

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