Perceptions, Barriers, and Motivators to Achieving a Healthy Weight Among College Students: A Pilot Study
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Obesity is a significant public health priority. Demographic and psychosocial variables influence a person’s perception of the benefits of behavior change and their ability to sustain changes such to achieve a healthy weight. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions, barriers, and motivators about healthy eating of overweight and obese college students. This study explored the barriers college students encounter in their efforts to combat obesity. Four types of social, emotional, knowledge and eating behavior concerns were administered to college students to investigate their perceptions related to weight and health status. The Health Belief Model that combines health education and tailored interventions to encourage a change in health behaviors was used as the theoretical framework for this study. This model theorizes that the perceived benefits inherent in health promotion activities must be incentive enough for patients to change their health behavior habits. A convenience sample of overweight and obese students was recruited via a de-identified email using the health clinic's electronic medical records. An anonymous web link was inserted into the email to complete four questionnaires and a brief demographic survey. All participants were assured of anonymity. Overall, results showed that knowledge is not a significant barrier to weight control. However, motivation to lose weight was the greatest obstacle for students. There was no significant relationship between BMI, gender, health or other type of major, and outcomes on four questionnaires that measured barriers to healthy eating, weight self-stigma, knowledge, attitude, practices, and motivation for weight loss.