Motivation for Obesity Prevention Among Adolescents in Low-income Communities in Three US States

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Adolescence obesity is one of the public health concerns that contribute to health disparities in the United States. Low-income communities are disproportionately impacted due to socioeconomic, environmental, cultural, and behavioral factors. Motivating vulnerable populations is a crucial component in health and behavior change communication. This study seeks to understand adolescents’ motivation in the reduction of obesity and promoting healthier lifestyles in low-income communities. Data were gathered among adolescents in 6th to 8th grades (N = 410) with an age range of 11–15 years in three U.S. States – Kansas, Ohio, and South Dakota. There was a relationship between adolescents’ perceptions of support for physical activity in their communities and their motivation for health. Results also show an association between adolescents’ motivation for health and outcome expectancies, both of which significantly differed by state. Other identified predictors for motivation include their perceptions for physical activity and for peers’ motivation to stay healthy. Nutrition-related predictors include adolescents’ perceptions on food availability and self-efficacy for healthy food choice. Ethnicity contributed to the variance in adolescents’ attitudes toward physical activity, perceptions of healthy food availability, and in their motivation for health. This study suggests focusing culturally relevant communication efforts on available nutritional and physical activity support within the environment and on outcome expectations in motivating health and obesity reduction among adolescents. The role of peers as a crucial motivational factor in preventing adolescence obesity should further be explored.

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Journal of Communication in Healthcare





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