Beliefs about Behavioral Determinants of Obesity in Appalachia, 2011-2014


The populations of many Appalachian communities have high rates of unhealthy body weight. This study aimed to identify differences in beliefs about obesity between Appalachians and non-Appalachians. Our analyses explored health beliefs and behaviors among US adults aged ≥18 (n = 14 451) who responded to the Health Information National Trends Survey (2011-2014), of whom 1015 (8%) resided within the 420 counties recognized as Appalachian by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Using weighted regression analyses and controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and general health, we determined that self-reported body mass index was higher among Appalachians than among non-Appalachians (B = 0.75, P = .03, 95% confidence interval, 0.08-1.47) and that Appalachians were less likely than non-Appalachians to believe that lifestyle factors were related to obesity (B = –0.37, P = .03, 95% confidence interval, –0.04 to –0.71). Results suggest that Appalachians may regard behavioral prevention differently from non-Appalachians, perhaps with less confidence in the effectiveness of certain behaviors to reduce obesity risk. Future research may determine whether such beliefs could complicate efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles throughout the region.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Public Health Reports, v. 133, issue 4.

© 2018, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

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Funding Information

The University of Kentucky College of Public Health funded the Appalachian oversample via contract to Westat, Inc.