Date of Award

8-9-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Sara Wilcox

Abstract

Background: Similar to the general population, college students have high rates of overweight/obesity and low rates of physical activity (PA) and healthy nutrition habits. Internal health locus of control (LOC) and religiosity/spirituality have been associated with positive health behaviors in various populations, but the mechanisms explaining these associations are still unclear. Purpose: The goals of this study were to understand the relationship between both health LOC and God locus of health control (independent variables) and PA, fruit and vegetable intake (FVI) and dietary fat intake (dependent variables) of college students through mediation analysis. Self-efficacy, social support, congregational social support and divine support were tested as potential mediators. Methods: This study used a cross-sectional design that used online surveys for data collection. Participants were 838 college students from two Southeastern universities (72% female; 64% white, 23% black; 21.4 ± 4.8 years). Linear regression analyses were used to determine relationships between variables, and the PRODCLIN program was used to assess for mediation. Results: Self-efficacy and social support mediated the relationship between health LOC and PA and FVI, and self-efficacy was a mediator between LOC and dietary fat intake. Only congregational social support mediated the relationship between God locus of health control and PA. Conclusion: PA and dietary behavior change interventions that target increasing LOC should also include self-efficacy and social support for optimal outcomes. Additionally, for those that utilize God as a health LOC source, congregational social support may influence PA behaviors.

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