Childhood Obesity in the Greater Chicagoland Area: A Geographical & Social Analysis
Yan Yuen, Mei
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Obesity in young children is becoming a problem and it is growing rapidly. This thesis focuses on childhood obesity in greater Chicagoland, which includes Cook and Lake County, Illinois, and Kenosha County, Wisconsin. There have been significant changes to the lifestyles and diets of all age groups, most importantly children. Childhood obesity is a factor that can be tied to many other diseases later in life such as diabetes, heart disease and others. This study explores how childhood obesity has been increasing and what factors contribute to its growth. Data analysis includes demographics of the people within the Chicagoland study area and application of social theories is used to explain why a certain area may be more affected by unhealthy weight in their younger population. SPSS and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is utilized for data analysis. Hot spot analyses in GIS are to identify the most affected areas in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois and how these may correlate to demographically at-risk populations. Through analysis and mapping it is concluded that education is the most important factor, followed by race and income. The most vulnerable areas for childhood obesity is centered around metropolitan areas of Chicago and Waukegan, as they move farther away from the center of the city vulnerability is decreased. Social disorganization of neighborhood that surrounds these cities is used to explain the high cases of childhood obesity.