Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Cheryl Armstead


Although obesity is a nationwide epidemic, there are large racial, gender, socioeconomic, and geographical disparities in the rates of this condition. Specifically, African American women are more likely to be classified as obese as compared to all other gender and racial groups. Scholars have targeted African American churches to implement dietary and physical activity interventions in an attempt to combat the racial disparity in obesity rates. One of the main correlates studied in regards to obesity has been individual level markers of status such as socioeconomic status and subjective social status. Even though we focus on churches as a place of intervention, we know very little about the socioeconomic status parameters of church affiliation in regard to organizational power, prestige, and hierarchy. Markers of status vary by cultural, gender, and geographical groups. It is possible that for a Southern church attending population of African American women, one’s church is a marker of status. The purpose of this study is to examine how markers of church related status, relate to total and central measures of adiposity in a sample of Southern, religious, African American females.

Data for the current study comes from two sources: 1) a large dietary and physical activity intervention conducted in churches in the Midlands of South Carolina from 2010 to 2014 and 2) data from a survey asking participants to rate churches on a scale of 1 to 10 to develop a measure of church prestige created and administered in 2016. Participants were 790 African American females, ages 25 to 86 (M=57.28, SD=11.92). Results from the factor analysis showed a three factor solution for church social status. Results from the regression analyses showed moderate relationships between the factors of church social status and measures of obesity.


© 2016, Kinjal Pandya