Authors: Brittany Blake
Faculty Mentor: LaToya O’Neal
College: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Rural communities have higher obesity rates than the national average but limited access to clinicians and other tools to manage obesity. Rural areas often rely on partnerships between health departments, health extension specialists and faith-based organizations to manage their healthcare. Health workers and faith-based organization leaders act as community stakeholders invested in alleviating rural community health issues, such as obesity. With rural areas’ reliance on such partnerships, analyzing the stakeholders’ perspectives to rural obesity management is important to understanding the crisis. However, few studies have explored community stakeholder perspectives on adult rural obesity. This study analyzed stakeholder perspectives on community resources, rural obesity and their capacity to alleviate obesity in their communities. Participants were interviewed from the following four rural counties in Florida: Taylor, Suwannee, Putnam and Bradford. Survey interviews were administered to a total of 15 participants working as faith-based organization leaders or health promotion specialists. They were asked to assess the barriers to healthy lifestyles within their respective communities, ways to engage community members in health promotion efforts, and needed community resources to combat rural obesity. Participants’ responses were transcribed verbatim and systematically coded for themes. Further findings will be described in the final paper.