Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Jacob Sowers


health, airports, obesity, GIS, geography, public space

Subject Categories

Environmental Public Health | Nutrition


The purpose of this thesis is to analyze and evaluate the environment of the airport terminal. Specifically, the research will introduce how the airport creates an unhealthful public space. Nationally, the unavailability and high cost of exercise memberships and healthy eating options has lead to alarmingly high obesity rates in the United States, such that an obesogenic landscape has been created. Previous research has shown that the landscape and resulting sense of place affects an individual's attitudes, perceptions, and actions within a particular space. Although places, such as fast food restaurants, have started to implement healthier options on their menus, customers are not choosing these options partly because the restaurant's space still accentuates its unhealthier options, thus sustaining an unhealthy sense of place. To begin to battle obesity, there needs to be research on various spaces to understand where changes can be made to create healthier spaces. For this research, I examine the airport terminal. I identified three stakeholder groups; Adventurers (airport travelers), Attendants (those who work in the airport), and Aviators (airline flight crew) and two primary aspects of unhealthy spaces—access to exercise and healthful foods. These groups were studied through textual analysis of forums and blogs, and personal observation. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) was used to study the clustering of unhealthy spaces in the airport. From this research, solutions for providing a health-friendly mandatory public place were presented. This research found that airports do not provide healthy environments for individuals, which is of concern with America's ongoing obesity epidemic. Further research should be conducted in various fields such as planning and marketing to explore how to actualize the results.


© Stacey Ann MacDonald

Campus Only