Environmental, Personal, and Behavioral Factors Are Related to Body Mass Index in a Group of Multi-Ethnic, Low-Income Women

Heidi Dressler, Chery Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Environmental, personal, and behavioral determinants of body mass index (BMI) are not well understood in the low-income demographic. To investigate these factors, a cross-sectional survey was developed using Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), utilizing formative data from focus groups and measured environmental, personal, and behavioral constructs, in addition to food-related self-identity, food security, and heights and weights. Participants were urban women (n=330) who qualified for a food and nutrition assistance program. Data collection occurred at sites within the community, including homeless shelters, food pantries, libraries, and community centers. The outcome of interest was BMI and the relationship to environmental, personal, and behavioral constructs, and food-related self-identity. All three SCT construct models were significant, but the personal construct regression model predicted the greatest variance in BMI among the women (31%). Decreased BMI was associated with SCT and self-identity variables indicating preventative behaviors, while increased BMI was associated with SCT and self-identity emotional eating variables. Overall results suggest that personal, behavioral, and self-identity factors can help to explain some weight variation observed among women living in similar obesogenic, low-income environments. Although additional research is needed, results suggest interventions with this population should address eating healthy to prevent disease, exercising for health, and shaping health-promoting self-identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1662-1668
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume113
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

Keywords

  • Eating behavior
  • Emotional eating
  • Lean
  • Obesity
  • Social Cognitive Theory

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