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Patti Barrows


A disproportionate number of African American women are at risk for illness and mortality due to obesity. The aim of this study was to explore perceived behavioral control (PBC), stress, body image, and exercise intentions (EI) using the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as the primary theoretical framework. The TPB is a leading model in health research to predict behavioral intentions, yet its application to the general female African American population is lacking. Seventy-nine African American women were sampled utilizing a cross-sectional, online survey method. A series of bivariate correlations tested the relationships among PBC, stress, body image, age, and physical activity with EI as the dependent variable. Findings showed that PBC and EI were significantly correlated (r = .62, p<.001). There was also a significant correlation between physical activity level and EI (r = .34, p=.003). Stress, body image, and age were not significantly correlated with EI. A standard multiple regression analysis was used to test if PBC, stress, and body image significantly predicted EI. PBC and stress explained 42% of the variance (R² = .42, F(3,75)=18.49, p<.001). These findings highlight the importance of strengthening PBC beliefs and reducing stress to enhance successful weight loss. Social change implications include a culturally-sensitive approach to weight loss that could help decrease obesity rates and related health problems.

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