Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Richard Garnett

Second Advisor

Nicholas Freidin

Third Advisor

Kristi McLeod-Fondren


In 2008 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found Huntington, West Virginia, to be the unhealthiest city in America. A Gallup Poll conducted in 2010 found the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area number one of 188 metro areas where depression diagnoses are most common. Manifestations of poor health in Huntington may be related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs mainly in winter months. Symptoms of SAD are reported as a lack of energy, sleeping more, and consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and starchy foods. I theorize that these maladaptive behaviors may be a reaction to climate conditions present in the Huntington region which are present all year around. To test the likelihood of this theory, an online survey was distributed to a convenience sample of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in social science courses at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia. The data was collected in four waves of the study corresponding to the seasons. Quantitative data on types of foods eaten, activity level, and feelings of lethargy were analyzed using the statistics which were collected from each season. The purpose of the research presented here is to examine if a relationship exists among lifestyle factors, seasonal variations in weather, and self-reported health that could be responsible for Huntington’s health issues. The results of the survey suggest that there is validity to the thesis that one of the factors leading to the unhealthy behaviors exhibited by the population of Huntington, West Virginia, could be due to previously unrecognized effects of year-around seasonal affective disorder caused by climate conditions.


Obesity - Environmental aspects.

Seasonal affective disorder.

Public health - Huntington (W. Va.)