Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Epidemiology & Community Health

First Advisor

Dr. Paul Mazmanian


Obesity is a dangerous health condition affecting approximately 30% of all Americans and can be attributed to 300,000 deaths a year. Obesity has been found to disproportionately affect Blacks, Latinos, and those with lower SES. Although obesity is a problem for all age groups, its prevalence is highest among those 60-74 years of age. Studies have shown that there is an association between obesity and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancers, and type-2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, chronic health conditions affect 80% of all elderly persons, many times limiting function and decreasing quality of life. This study attempted to find a relationship between obesity and chronic conditions among 1,053 elderly living in Philadelphia and 1,648 elderly living in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. This study also examined the risk for having a chronic condition associated with living in Philadelphia compared to living in the four surrounding counties. Data from the 2002 Household Survey conducted by the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation was used to examine the relationship between obesity and chronic conditions and it was found that obesity was significantly related to having a chronic condition among elderly in both the city and suburbs. Specifically, obesity was related to diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and heart conditions for persons over 60 living in the city and suburbs with an additional association with allergies for elderly living in the city. It was also found that living in the city of Philadelphia was significantly associated with a 50% increased chance for diabetes among persons 60 and over. Future research should first be conducted to design a BMI scale that reflects the decrease in muscle and bone mass associated with aging. After a new scale is devised, research should continue to further investigate the association between obesity and various chronic conditions in the elderly.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Epidemiology Commons