Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Document Type



Obesity and food insecurity are disproportionately experienced by African Americans compared to white Americans. African Americans encounter multiple barriers to healthful eating in their food environment, in part due to structural racism. Four studies were undertaken to understand how SNAP-Ed may best address the needs of African Americans and whether the program is serving African Americans in Louisiana equitably. In the first study, a scoping review was conducted to describe nutrition interventions addressing structural racism experienced by African Americans and compare them to the Getting to Equity in Obesity Prevention Framework. Nearly all included studies focused on PSE change interventions rather than educational interventions. All but four studies addressed obesity prevention by providing education and adding healthy options to participants’ surroundings, which may not be suited to addressing the fundamental causes of health disparities. The second study was a scoping review of the literature describing African Americans’ perceptions of and experiences participating in nutrition education and/or PSE change interventions. The review identified little literature which found that African Americans were dissatisfied with interventions, all of which were studies of interventions providing education alone and conducted using qualitative methods. The third study assessed whether outcomes from participation in the SNAP-Ed program were similar for African American compared to white residents of Louisiana. Disaggregation of program evaluation data revealed similar outcomes for most behaviors studied with the exception of whole grain pasta and fruit juice consumption. The fourth study implemented qualitative focus group discussions to describe African Americans’ perceptions of the SNAP-Ed program in Louisiana. Participants were satisfied with viii the program overall, but lessons were viewed as race-neutral. Participants expressed the need for lessons to address African American history and culture, and the need for more African American staff. Federally funded nutrition education programs such as SNAP-Ed have a duty to address health disparities by uplifting the voices of African Americans and directly addressing the needs of this population. The results of these investigations demonstrate examples of nutrition interventions that have addressed structural racism and assessed African Americans perceptions of nutrition interventions and provide suggestions for improvement to the SNAP-Ed program.

Committee Chair

Holston, Denise M.



Available for download on Monday, February 24, 2025