Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-6-2019


When evaluating the prevalence of obesity rates throughout New Mexico (NM), it appears these rates have reached a plateau. A recent study conducted by the NM Department of Health (DOH) found that NM was among 19 other states that have had a first time decrease in child obesity rates among low income families. However, when examined deeper, when looking at geographical areas throughout NM, hidden geography of weight disparities become apparent. Although obesity rates may have decreased in some areas, they have increased in others. The purpose of this study is to effectively evaluate variability in weight trends between geographical areas throughout NM and to evaluate the relationship between obesity rates and specific socioeconomic determinants.

This study utilized two mapped datasets, created at two distinct times, that were conjoined to form a trend map as well as a swipe map that allows for visual exploration of child weight trends from 2013 to 2015. Pearson correlation evaluated the relationship between socioeconomic variables and obesity rates. Statistical significance of changes in obesity rates in geographical areas was determined using two standard deviations above and below each estimate to obtain a 95% confidence interval for the coefficient estimate.

A significant relationship was found between one socioeconomic variable (proportion of grandchildren living with grandparents without parent present) and a significant increase in obesity rates was seen in over 10 geographical areas throughout NM. All WIC management, early childhood groups, obesity prevention groups and researchers can utilize suggested findings of this study to effectively focus healthcare in areas where obesity rates have increased and improve quality of care in these communities. Results of this study can provide a pathway for the improvement of WIC program management and development, social conditions/environments and continuity of care.


Nutrition, public health, child obesity, mapped datasets

Document Type




Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Deborah Cohen, DCN, RDN

Second Committee Member

Thomas N Scharmen, MA, MPH

Third Committee Member

Diana-Gonzales-Pacheco, DCN, RDN