Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

JoAnne Youngblut

First Advisor's Committee Title


Second Advisor's Name

Dorothy Brooten

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Luz Porter

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Marcia Magnus

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Menopause, Obesity, Rural, Rurality, African American, Women, Socioeconomic, Chronic Disease, Mental Health, Premenopause, Eating Behaviors

Date of Defense



In the US, one in every eight deaths is due to an obesity-related chronic health condition (ORCHC). More than half of African American women (AAW) 20 years old or older are obese or morbidly obese, as are 63% of menopausal AAW. Many have ORCHC that increase their morbidity and mortality and increase health care costs. In 2013, 42.6 percent of AAs living in South Carolina (SC) were obese. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to identify the cognitive, behavioral, biological, and demographic factors that influence health outcomes (BMI, and ORCHC) of AAW living in rural SC. A sample of 200 AAW (50 in each of the 4 groups of rurality by menopausal status), 18-64 years, completed the: Menopausal Rating Scale (symptoms); Body Image Assessment for Obesity (self-perception of body); Mental Health Inventory; Block Food Frequency Questionnaire; Eating Behaviors and Chronic Conditions, Traditional Food Habits, and Food Preparation Technique questionnaires – and measures for Body Mass Index. Most rural, and premenopausal AAW were single and not living with a partner. Premenopausal women had significantly higher educational levels. Sixty percent of AAW had between 1 and 5 ORCHC. Most AAW used salt based seasonings, ate deep fried foods 1 to 3 times a week, and ate outside the home 1 to 3 times a month. Few AAW knew the correct daily serving for grains and dairy, and most consumed less than the recommended daily serving of fruits, vegetables and dairy. Morbidly obese AAW used more traditional food preparation techniques than obese and normal-weight AAW. Rural, and menopausal AAW had significantly higher morbid obesity levels, consumed larger portions of meats and vegetables, and reported more body image dissatisfaction than very rural AAW, and premenopausal AAW, respectively. Controlling for socioeconomic factors the relationships between perceptions of body images, psychological distress, and psychological wellbeing remained significant for numbers of ORCHC



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