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Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Behaviors about Physical Activity, Weight, Nutrition and Health in Young, Low-income Latina Adults


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to critically examine the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about physical activity (PA), weight, nutrition, health, depression, social support, self efficacy, acculturation and fatalism to better understand excess weight in young, low-income Latina adults.

Significance: The health consequences due to overweight and obesity (excess weight) are extensive. Although obesity is a global epidemic, an increasing proportion of individuals in the United States (US) are obese, especially Latinos. Specifically in the US, Mexican American women have the second highest prevalence of obesity and Mexican Americans have the highest reported prevalence of leisure time physical inactivity.

Design: cross-sectional study

Methods: A convenience sample (n=132) who consented to an interview-administered questionnaire were recruited from two clinics. Inclusion criteria were: self-identified Latina women, 18 to 45 years of age, who spoke English or Spanish and lived in Northern California.

yFindings: Most were born in Mexico (41%) or Guatemala (37%), had < high school education (49%), were married (44%) or partnered (31%), had a household income< $20,000, an average household size of 4 (±1), and two children. Most had lived in the US an average of 10 years (±5.5) and almost all participants (97%) had a low level of acculturation. Two of 10 independent variables were statistically significantly associated with excess weight: current body silhouette size [OR=2.78, 95% CI: 1.28, 6.04] and receiving health information from newspapers [OR=7.31, 95% CI: 1.43, 37.35].

Conclusion: Of these Latina women, 20% had a healthy weight, 46% were overweight and 34% were obese, 83% reported meeting federal PA guidelines, and 59% indicated an insufficient PA duration necessary for weight maintenance. Most women of a healthy weight rated their health as "good", while those who had excess weight rated their health as "fair". Body silhouette size and getting health information from newspapers were statistically significantly associated with excess weight.

Implications: This study shows the need for further research on excess weight to increase awareness about healthy weight and the practices that influence healthy behaviors in young, low-income, immigrant Latinas.

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