Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Stephen Chrisomalis


This exploratory study tested the research hypothesis that among African Americans in Metropolitan Detroit, neighborhood satisfaction, stress and perception of racism influence obesity differently based on income. The three expected results for the data were as follows: income does not have a link to obesity; links between BMI and the study variables (neighborhood satisfaction, stress, and perceived racism) vary according to income category; and the study variables (neighborhood satisfaction, stress, and perceived racism) influence the variability of BMI differently according to income category. The results indicate that there are no income differences in how the study variables influence obesity. Therefore, the hypothesis is rejected. It must also be concluded that for the study population, there is no support for the idea that there is equifinality in becoming obese based on income. However, this study supports previous observations that SES no longer has an influence on the distribution of obesity. In addition, it reveals that a combination of a person's sex and income level may expose a person to different types or levels of obesity-influencing factors. For decades, the assumption was that differential access to resources makes some people more susceptible to obesity. However, as more segments of society are becoming overweight and obese, support for this assumption disappears. Instead, exposure to obesity-influencing stressors is what is important. Since none of the study variables is associated with BMI, then perhaps other variables would be more appropriate to focus on for the study population. Changes in physical activity, shifts in what is considered an acceptable body image, and/or dietary habits may reflect income differences in developing obesity among African Americans.