Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Agriculture, School of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Document Type



A healthy diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is associated with reduced risk of obesity and chronic disease. Many people do not consume a healthy diet, especially those with limited resources. The purpose of this research was to study social marketing campaigns and message design factors that promote healthy eating and improved physical activity (PA) behaviors to low-income populations in Louisiana (LA) and to describe the attitudes, beliefs, and barriers of the rural, low-income LA population regarding healthy eating.

In a scoping literature review, an evidence map of publications regarding social marketing campaigns that aim to promote healthy eating and improved PA to low-income populations was produced. Formative and qualitative research about healthy eating predominated. This research identified preferences of the LA low-income population for Behavioral Economics (BE) interventions including messengers, social norms, and commitments in social marketing campaigns aiming to improve vegetable intake. There was significant variation in the main effects of the messenger variable F(4, 200) = 2.90, P = .0229 and the message variable F(4, 199) = 3.57, P = .0078. Pairwise comparisons showed lower preference ratings for the friend when compared to other messengers, i.e., mother (P = .0343) and normal weight doctor (P = .0440). Also, pairwise comparisons showed lower preference ratings for a descriptive norm when compared to other messages, i.e., grocery list pre-commitment (P =.0484) and injunctive norm (P = .0351). There was significant variation in the message variable and frequency of vegetable intake interaction F(8, 239) = 2.57, P = .0104.

Rural low-income LA residents noted the high cost and low palatability of healthy foods in formative research. Professionals for nutrition education were limited resulting in reliance on the internet (when available), family, and friends. The low cost, wide availability, and high palatability of energy dense nutrient poor (EDNP) foods were barriers to healthy food consumption. More social support for planning meals and grocery shopping may improve healthy eating intentions. This research may be useful to organizations such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) that develop social marketing campaigns to promote healthy eating and improved PA to low-resource populations.



Committee Chair

Holston, Denise