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Am J Health Promot. 2011 Jul-Aug;25(6):e1-e10. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.091222-QUAN-397.

Food-related environmental, behavioral, and personal factors associated with body mass index among urban, low-income African-American, American Indian, and Caucasian women.

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Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.



To examine racial/ethnic differences in relationships between food-related environmental, behavioral and personal factors and low-income women's weight status using Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) as a framework.


Cross-sectional survey.


Community sites and low-income housing developments in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.


Low-income African-American, American Indian, and Caucasian women ≥18 years old (n  =  367).


Participants completed a survey including demographic, food security, and theoretically based questions. Heights and weights were measured to determine body mass index (BMI).


Data were split by race/ethnicity and reduced by examining Pearson coefficients for SCT survey questions significantly correlated with BMI (p < .05). Separate environmental, behavioral, and personal multiple linear regression models for each racial/ethnic group were run to explore the proportion of variance in BMI explained by each SCT construct and which questions were significant predictors.


All regression models were statistically significant, although the personal regression models predicted the greatest proportion of the variance in BMI for African-American (15% of the variance), American Indian (22% of the variance), and Caucasian women (37% of the variance).


Effective nutrition education and intervention efforts to control the obesity epidemic among urban, low-income women may call for a tailored approach with noted consideration of their racial/ethnic identity. Although broader changes to the food environment are necessary, the importance of addressing personal factors such as nutrition knowledge, self-efficacy, and emotional coping responses to stress, in the context of income constraints, food insecurity, and health beliefs, is also implicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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