Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Ejiro Ntukeme - Community Health Sciences, Physical Activity and Nutrition

After graduating from Berkeley in 2012, Ejiro had the opportunity to work in various settings with different organizations, to improve the health of children and adults in underserved communities. She worked as a health educator in East Oakland, where she created an after school physical activity program which utilized various forms of dance as a foundation to physical activity exercises. She also had the opportunity to intern at the San Francisco Department of Public Health through the Health Career Connections (HCC), and served as an AmeriCorps Member in Sonoma County with St. Josephs Health System and the Northern California Center for Well-Being. Ejiro is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health, M.P.H, at the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health. Ejiro writes: Being a part of the ISF was an amazing experience, and I couldnt have picked a better major to prepare me for the work I did upon graduation, and the work I am doing now. ISF gave me an opportunity to develop my own cross-disciplinary research based on my academic interests. The major gave me an opportunity to integrate methodological approaches from various academic disciplines such as sociology, public policy, and anthropology. With the guidance of my advisor, I was able to take the right courses that would help me understand my research on the role of neighborhood environments on adolescent obesity.
Ejiro summarizes her research on neighborhood dynamics in public health crises Although many scholars have contributed greatly to the evaluation and diagnosis of childhood obesity, a comprehensive study linking neighborhoods, socioeconomic status, and culture is lacking. While the actual cause of childhood obesity is unknown, emerging studies suggest that neighborhood environments may be an important risk factor in this rising epidemic. Healthy food availability and opportunities for physical activity are important aspects within neighborhoods that must be considered when assessing adolescent obesity. Neighborhood food environments encompass home eating behaviors, location and availability of healthy food vendors, healthy food pricing, and healthy food choices. By failing to recognize the impact that these features of neighborhoods have in contributing to the physiological imbalances that eventually lead to obesity, solutions will continue to be ineffective. Neighborhood opportunities for physical activity include neighborhood design and land use features that promote walking and availability of recreational facilities and parks. Thus, the overall goal of this thesis is to investigate how the neighborhood food and physical activity/walking environments impact adolescent obesity among ethnic minorities.

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