Risk for disease and weight perceptions among college-age African-American and white women
Brasseur, Kelly J.
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The present study was designed to explore the difference between African- American and white women ages 18 - 27 in attitudes and perceptions toward weight and weight loss, perceived risk for disease, family history of disease and self-efficacy related to behavior change. Ninety-five subjects in total were studied comprising two groups: 1) 32 African-American women and 2) 63 white women. No significant differences were found between the two groups of subjects in attitudes and perceptions toward weight and weight loss. However, within each group there was a significant relationship between perceived risk for disease and family history of disease. In the African-American population there was a significant relationship between perceived risk for diabetes, being overweight, heart problems, cancer and family history of those conditions. The white population showed a significant relationship between perceived risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight, heart problems, cancer, osteoporosis and a family history of those conditions. There was no correlation between BMI and the number of conditions a subject perceived to be at risk for in either group. In addition, no correlation was found between BMI and the number of family diseases. Self-efficacy was evaluated on five parts related to behavior change. Reducing salt was the only area to show a significant difference in average scores between the groups. African-American women in this study were found to be less likely to reduce their salt intake than white women. General health education in the college environment should focus on increasing student awareness of the relationship between family history, ethnicity and degenerative diseases.