Date of Award

7-10-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Valerie A. Hepburn, Ph.D, MPA - Chair

Second Advisor

Mara Galic, MHSc, RD, LD

Third Advisor

Derek Shendell, D.Env, MPH

Abstract

This study assesses environmental factors in the exercise and food environment, demographic factors, physical activity behavior, and fruit and vegetable consumption in 26 rural Georgia counties. The purpose of the study is to identify environmental indicators of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption; to see what agencies in Georgia, if any, are collecting these types of data systematically throughout the state; and, to analyze potential relationships between environmental factors and health behaviors. Physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption were derived from the Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005). Demographic data were from the U.S. Census (2000). Environmental data were collected using Reference USA. Analysis was conducted using Pearson’s correlation (one-tailed). No statistically significant associations were found between the food environment and fruit and vegetable consumption nor the exercise environment and physical activity; suggesting associations found in urban areas may not exist in rural areas. Fruit and vegetable consumption was positively associated with travel time to work (P < .05). Physical activity was positively related to travel time to work (P < .01) and education (P < .05) and negatively related to federal spending per person (P < .05). Findings should improve understanding of the relationship between the environment and physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption in rural GA. Recommendations for improved data collection and interdepartmental cooperation are made.

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