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P15 Self-Efficacy and Psychosocial Determinants of Obesity Prevention Behaviors in Caucasian Americans

      Background

      The obesity epidemic is a salient health issue affecting Caucasian Americans in the United States. Food consumption patterns, dietary choices, and physical activity behaviors influence weight-related outcomes in individuals. Psychosocial theories provide a foundation in understanding mediators of health behaviors.

      Objective

      To identify psychosocial determinants of obesity prevention behaviors in Caucasian Americans residing in New Jersey.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      A cross-sectional survey design was used in which a convenience sample of 174 participants (18 to 40 years old) completed a validated online, self-administered questionnaire. Male and female participants were recruited from universities, religious organizations, and cultural institutions, representing a wide range of educational and socioeconomic backgrounds in New Jersey.

      Measurable Outcome and Analysis

      Nineteen behaviors related to obesity risk reduction were measured along with self-efficacy and psychosocial constructs derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior. Participants indicated their adoption of behaviors over the previous month reflecting food practices, portion size control, consumption of plant-based foods (eg fruits, vegetables, whole grains), and engagement in physical activity. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were conducted for the entire sample. T-tests were applied for individuals categorized as high vs low self-efficacy groups.

      Results

      The mean age of the study participants (70% female) was 26.4 (SD = 7.0) years with an average body mass index of 24.7 (SD = 4.8). Regression analysis showed that 37.5% of the variance in obesity risk reduction behaviors was accounted solely by self-efficacy. T-tests indicated that there was a higher frequency of adoption of 17 health behaviors within the high self-efficacy group as compared to their low self-efficacy counterparts. Notable mean differences in behavior included eating home-cooked meals (P < .05), limiting portion sizes of food (P < .001), eating fruits and vegetables (P < .001), engaging in physical activity (P < .001), and monitoring body weight (P < .01).

      Conclusions

      Nutrition professionals who work with young American adults need to assess their self-efficacy in order to engage in health behaviors. In fostering behavioral confidence, executing skill building interventions that address food choice behaviors is critical for obesity prevention.
      Funding: None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data