Understanding the Influence of Motivational Readiness on the Relationship between Body Image and Weight-Related Health Behaviors in African American Adults

Open Access
Jones, Hannah Tripp
Area of Honors:
Biobehavioral Health
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Scherezade Kelly Mama, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Anne Francis, Honors Advisor
  • physical activity
  • body image
  • health disparities
  • motivational readiness
  • African American
  • obesity
This study explored the associations among body image, motivational readiness, and weight-related health behaviors in African American men and women. African American adults (N=204) completed questionnaires on body image (perceived and desired), exercise and weight stages of change (SOC), physical activity (PA), and fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC). Linear regression and mediation model analyses were performed. Most (74.0%) participants were women (M age=48.1 years, SD=14.8) and obese (M BMI=31.7 kg/m2, SD=7.8). Perceived BMI was significantly associated with minutes of vigorous PA (β=-0.2, t=-2.7, p=.007), moderate PA (β=-0.2, t=-2.3, p=.023), total MVPA (β=-0.2 t=-2.9 p=.004), and FVC (β=-0.1, t=- 2.1, p=.041). While desired BMI was not found to be directly associated with PA or FVC, participants who desired to be smaller had higher levels of exercise SOC which was associated with increased minutes of vigorous PA (indirect effect=-3.8, 95% CI [-8.0, -1.0]), moderate PA (indirect effect=-3.1, 95% CI [-7.0, -0.7]), and total MVPA (indirect effect=-6.2, 95% CI [-14.0, -1.9]). Results suggest that perceived BMI, rather than desired BMI, may be a driving factor for PA or FVC in African American men and women. However, when individuals increase their exercise SOC, maintaining a healthy weight may be more important and a lower desired BMI is associated with higher levels of PA. Health promotion efforts are needed to reduce inaccurate perceptions of body size and to increase motivational readiness for exercise in order to increase PA among African American men and women.