Factors influencing dietary fat intake among Black emerging adults
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Currently more than 1/3 of the adult U.S. population is obese. Obesity has been linked to dietary fat intake (DFI). Black emerging adults have a higher prevalence of obesity and DFI compared to other races/ethnicities, which increases their risks for cardiovascular disease. In order to reduce risks for long-term chronic illnesses linked to lifestyle choices, it is important for Black emerging adults to develop healthy eating habits while transitioning into adulthood. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of individual characteristics (gender, body mass index, income adequacy, and religious commitment) and behavior-specific cognitions and affect (perceived barriers for healthy eating, perceived self-efficacy related to managing dietary fat intake, perceived family social support, perceived friend social support, and perceived generalized stress) on the behavior outcome of DFI. Pender’s Health Promotion Model was the theoretical framework that guided this study. A convenience sample of 251 participants, recruited from sites frequented by Black emerging adults, such as universities, churches, and social media, used a web link to complete an online self-report survey regarding factors that influence their DFI. The survey contained a demographic questionnaire and eight established instruments, which measured the previously mentioned individual characteristics, behavior-specific cognitions and affect, and DFI. Gender (r[subscript pb] = -.22, p < .001) (higher fat intake among males), perceived barriers for healthy eating (r = .32, p < .001), and perceived self-efficacy related to dietary fat intake (r = -.33, p < .001) were the only variables studied that were significantly correlated with DFI. These variables were also significant predictors for DFI, explaining 20.1% of the variance. Gender had the greatest effect on DFI (b = -5.671, p = .000). Religious commitment influenced the effects of perceived stress on dietary fat intake. This study addresses the gap in the literature by examining factors influencing DFI among Black emerging adults, an understudied population. Findings from this study may lead to culturally age-appropriate and gender-specific interventions to help Black emerging adults adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles well into their older adult years.