Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Public Health Studies: Pre-clinical Health Science and University Honors
OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
Obesogenic environments, competitive school foods, commercial food environments, high school food environments
The purpose of this exploratory research was to study commercial food environments around high schools in the Portland metropolitan area to explore the question: How do the economic, geographic, and racial demographics of public high schools in the Portland metropolitan area affect the prevalence and make-up of obesogenic commercial food environments surrounding these schools?
Commercial food environments within a 1 km radius of 35 public high schools in the Portland metropolitan area were surveyed. The “healthiness” of the environment was calculated by establishing a “Food Environment Score.” This score was correlated with economic, geographic, and racial demographics obtained from the Oregon Department of Education (2018-2019) and the National Center for Education Statistics (2018) databases.
There were significant relationships between the locale (urban to rural classification) of a school and the Food Environment Score (R2 of 0.1131, p-value of 0.0482) and between the proportion of students who were multiracial and the Food Environment Score (R2 of 0.1116, p-value of 0.0497). There were no statistically significant correlations between other demographic variables and the Food Environment Score.
This exploratory research showed that urban school food environments may be healthier than rural school food environments, possibly due to the greater number of establishments in urban areas. It also showed that schools with greater proportions of multiracial students may have healthier surrounding food environments. However, future ethnographic and survey-based research must be done within schools to further study these observed relationships.
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Eapen, Sruthi, "Exploratory Study of Obesogenic Commercial School Food Environments in the Portland Metropolitan Area" (2020). University Honors Theses. Paper 943.