Date of Conferral







Amy Sickel


A disproportionate number of African American (AA) women are overweight, obese, and more likely to have weight related health concerns compared with Caucasian (C) women. Previous research indicates perception about health-enhancing behaviors influences AA females' health behavior. A gap exists in the current literature regarding AA women's perception of eating and exercise behavior and the impact social support has on AA women's adherence to USDA recommendations. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to examine AA women's weight locus of control, perceived susceptibility to weight related diseases, and perceived barriers to healthy eating and exercise relative to C women; and (2) to assess the impact of social support on adherence to USDA recommendations in AA women utilizing the extended health belief model. Participants were a convenience sample of 76 AA and C women ages 20-75 from churches in northeast Texas. A quantitative cross-sectional survey design was employed. ANOVA and linear regression were used to determine if there was a relationship between race and weight locus of control, perceived susceptibility to weight related diseases, and amount of perceived barriers to exercising/healthy eating as well as between perceived social support for exercising/healthy eating and adherence to USDA recommendations in African American women. Results indicated no signficant difference between AA and C participants in weight locus of control, susceptibility to weight-related diseases, or barriers to exercising/healthy eating. Social support predicted adherence to USDA recommendations in AA women. This enhances social change by providing a basis for future studies aimed towards designing and implementing interventions and strategies to help AA and C women improve their health.