Document Type

Honors Thesis




Leonard Kass

Committee Members

Lynn Atkins, Mary Ellen Camire, Mark Haggerty, Jade McNamara

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021


Obesity levels in adults and children in the United States and around the world have been closely monitored for years. Research in the field of obesity has demonstrated a clear understanding that with increased calorie consumption compared to calories expended, an overall weight gain will occur. Through a collection of cited resources about the factors that affect obesity, a research problem arose considering what is accounting for the increase in calories in groups of children with high rates of obesity. Socioeconomic status has a major influence on the environment that children are raised in, and this factor can affect both their physical and mental health. To offer an explanation of where the excess calories in children with obesity may be stemming from, it was hypothesized that Black children ages 6-11 have higher rates of obesity compared to white children, which may be caused by a higher rate of caloric intake from fast food consumption resulting from living in low-socioeconomic environments. Through a systematic review, data was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the United States Census, and the World Health Organization to determine if Black children had higher rates of obesity compared to white children aged 6-11, if they were more likely to live in low socioeconomic status compared to white children, and if low socioeconomic status contributed to higher rates of fast-food consumption. This collected aggregate data was compared using a 2-proportion Z-test to test for any statistically significant differences between caloric intake from fast food between high and low socioeconomic status. Additionally, the differences between Black and white 6–11-year-olds who have obesity and also the differences in Black and white children’s socioeconomic status were compared using a 2-Proportion Z-Test. Understanding these relationships will help to identify the interconnectedness of these factors. Results showed that Black children had higher rates of obesity compared to white children (p<0.00001), were more likely to be living in poverty compared to white 6–11-year-old children (p<0.0001) and that living in poverty contributes to an increase in caloric intake from fast foods (p=0.015).