Multiple health behaviors among overweight, class I obese, and class II obese persons

Aimee S James, Lucia Leone, Mira L Katz, Lorna Haughton McNeill, Marci K Campbell
Ethnicity & Disease 2008, 18 (2): 157-62

OBJECTIVES: Recent studies suggest an association between excess weightand increased risk of some cancers. Health disparities are evident for both obesity and cancer, each of which disproportionately affects African American adults. We examine the relationship between weight and selected health behaviors related to colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention (fruit and vegetable consumption, recreational physical activity, and CRC screening). We also examine behavioral psychosocial correlates including knowledge, perceived benefits and barriers, self-efficacy, and social support for these behaviors.

METHODS: The WATCH (Wellness for African Americans through Churches) Project was a CRC prevention study implemented in African American churches in rural North Carolina. We analyzed the baseline data of 813 church members who provided information on their height and weight through a telephone-based survey.

RESULTS: Most (78%) respondents were classified as overweight or obese. Self-rated health and level of physical activity were lower at higher weight levels, but little difference in fruit and vegetable consumption was observed among participants. Weight was negatively associated with past-year CRC testing among women but not among men. Levels of knowledge and self-efficacy were similar across weight groups, but some perceived barriers were significantly higher among obese participants.

CONCLUSIONS: Obesity was associated with some health behaviors and psychosocial correlates associated with increased cancer risk. Cancer prevention programs in African American populations where overweight is prevalent may wish to specifically address these issues.

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