Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun

Second Advisor

Neiger Green, PMP, LSS. MIDP, RPCV


African American (AA) women have the highest prevalence of obesity than other groups in the US making them disproportionately at high risk for chronic diseases associated with obesity such type 2 diabetes mellitus. Research has shown that stress may be a risk factor for obesity and that it may be more prevalent within AA women. The aim of this study was to identify if there is an association between psychological stress in AA women in the US and abdominal obesity (AO). A cross sectional study design was employed using secondary data from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). There were 655 AA female participants included in the study sample. The exposure variable was psychological stress assessed by select questions from the NHANES survey. The outcome variable was AO measured by waist circumference. Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between psychological stress and AO among AA women. The results of this study were that psychological stress was correlated with increased odds of AO upon adjusting for age, BMI, educational level and marital status (OR=1.192 95% CI 0.305 – 4.655). However, the association was not statistically significant. When examining the relationship between other covariates and AO, having a formal education and being a married woman were each found to be associated with decreased odds of AO. The results were not generalizable, but they suggest areas of promise in better understanding the impact of AO among AA women which could lead to targeted interventions to reduce this outcome in the population as well as others.