Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Susan Bodnar-Deren


In the United States and many other countries, obesity is viewed as a public health crisis that must be handled. Many social and individual solutions to the problem are proposed in research and policy. On an individual level, many Americans try to get rid of their fat with a multitude of weight loss practices as part of a healthy lifestyle. Obesity rates, feelings towards fatness, and weight control behaviors are significantly affected by a number of sociocultural factors. In this project I explore the relationship between the desire to lose weight and weight control practices with income. Using data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010 (N=4,341), I explore how income is associated with body satisfaction and weight control behaviors. I then examine if specific weight loss strategies differ by SES among those who have tried to lose weight (N=1,512). Results indicate that income impacts the desire to lose weight, weight loss attempts (OR=.778, CI=.663-.913), and some weight control strategies such as exercise (OR=1.392, CI=1.055-1.836), switching to lower calorie foods (OR=1.364, CI=1.027-1.813), and eating less fat to lose weight (OR=1.449, CI=1.094-1.919). However, other sociodemographic characteristics, such as education, gender, and race, played very important roles in predicting these behaviors. Overall, these findings suggest that an individual’s socioeconomic status influences feelings about one’s weight and what one does to change it, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. This study has several implications; most notably that one-size-fits-all obesity solution policy platform cannot be created if real changes are expected. Tailoring interventions to specific groups based on education and income are important to creating lasting change.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

April 2014

Included in

Sociology Commons