Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Moya Alfonso

Committee Member 1

Raymona Lawrence

Committee Member 2

Hani Samawi


The purpose of this study was to explore the paradoxical relationship between obesity and food insecurity and the subsequent impact of this relationship on perceptions and behaviors towards diet and nutrition among low-income women in Georgia. Specifically, this study sought to investigate whether factors such as poverty, education, socio-economic status, and participation in food assistance programs influence obesity outcomes among low-income women in Georgia. A sequential exploratory mixed-method research design was conducted for this study. Using qualitative and quantitative measures, the study employed key informant interviews with 16 administrators and staff members from the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program as well as, a survey instrument administered to 119 low-income women between the ages of 18-44 years. Study results suggested lack of nutrition knowledge, lack of transportation, and limited access to grocery stores and supermarkets were reported to be barriers to obtaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle among low-income women that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC programs. Study results suggested that neighborhood food environments affect low-income women’s food choices. WIC and SNAP clients were inclined to shop at local stores that were affordable, offered fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats, and were WIC and SNAP approved. In addition, the following variables were both associated with and influenced obesity: income, food access, food affordability, behaviors, and perceptions. Interestingly, there was no statistically significant association between obesity and food insecurity. Qualitative findings suggested that increasing nutrition education, expanding nutrition regulations across federally-funded nutrition assistance programs, and identifying the barriers to services that exist within these programs may lead to reduced food insecurity and prevent obesity in low-income women.

Included in

Public Health Commons