Research Article| Volume 50, ISSUE 5, P485-493, May 2018

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Health Belief Model Offers Opportunities for Designing Weight Management Interventions for College Students

Published:October 30, 2017DOI:



      Identify weight-related beliefs of college students and test the predictive power of the Health Belief Model for body mass index (BMI).


      Cross-sectional online survey with beliefs measured on 5-point scales.


      University in North Carolina.


      Undergraduates (n = 516; 91.9%), females (n = 399; 71.3%), white non-Hispanic students (n = 507; 86.2%), and 20.3% of overweight or obese status.

      Variables Measured

      Perceived severity, susceptibility, barriers, benefits, and internal and external cues to action.


      One-way ANOVA and regression. Significance was P < .05.


      Strongest beliefs concerned benefits of healthy eating and physical activity (mean, 4.1 ± 0.7); weakest beliefs concerned barriers to adopting such behaviors (mean, 2.6 ± 0.9). The regression model was statistically significant (P < .001) and explained 17% of variance in BMI (multivariate coefficient = 0.177). Perceived severity, susceptibility, external cues, barriers, and benefits predicted BMI.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Several beliefs were identified that could serve as the basis for weight-related interventions addressing specific concerns, needs, and goals of college students.

      Key Words

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