Health Behavior Knowledge and Self-efficacy as Predictors of Body Weight

Pouran Faghri and Jennifer Buden

Obesity is a public health concern with significant economic costs affecting employers. Worksite wellness programs benefit from developing tailored interventions that consider employees’ health-related knowledge and self-efficacy to change behavior. Correction is a high stress occupation with elevated rates of overweight and obesity. Poor stress management and barriers to achieve optimal health in the work environment increases the need for adequate knowledge and self-efficacy, or the level of confidence to eat healthy and be physically active. This cross-sectional pilot study used a sample of sixteen correctional employees who participated in a Nutrition and Physical Activity Questionnaire. This survey assesses knowledge and self-efficacy for nutrition and physical activity and current health behaviors, such as current dietary habits and level of physical activity. Demographic and anthropometric data were also collected for statistical analyses. Participants were primarily male correction officers working first shift with a mean (±SE) BMI of 29 (±1.05) kg/m2, classified as overweight. Multiple regression analyses revealed that knowledge and self-efficacy scores predicted variation in BMI when controlling for other scores in the model. Findings from this study may be applicable for future health promotion interventions in high-risk occupations. In high-risk occupations such as corrections, understanding environmental and organizational barriers to achieving good health and reducing chronic disease risk is important. However, in addition to reducing these barriers, increasing knowledge, improving skills and self-efficacy to achieve good health are also critical in order to develop effective interventions for this population.