ORCID Identifier(s)

0000-0002-2127-644X

Graduation Semester and Year

2019

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Angela Liegey-Dougall

Abstract

Many Americans do not consume enough healthy food and overconsume sugar and meat products. As a prominent food desert, this trend is particularly rife in Arlington/Ft. Worth, TX especially among low-income individuals. To obtain an understanding of this dearth in healthy eating, this research sampled a low-income population for focus groups (Study 1) and a longitudinal experimental study (Study 2). The focus groups explored the prevalence of the social cognitive theory, the prototype willingness model, and the extended parallel processing model components to preliminarily examine health attitudes and opinions of this group. The longitudinal study tested four health topics (how to shop and eat healthy at low cost, recommended serving sizes of food groups, chronic disease and food preparation, and physical activity) over three time points through brief educational manipulations. This second study piloted behavior change topics that may be important for education and elucidated ways to improve health. It was predicted that behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes would improve after the manipulations, especially within the chronic disease and food preparation manipulation. Overall, the sample in Study 2 was 51.2% Black and 62.9% male, with a mean age of 46 years (SD = 13.19). Most reported high school completion or equivalent, but earned less than $10,000 a year (N = 116, 73%). Study 1 showed participants distrusted large food companies, did not know what food to eat, and felt little control to be healthier, yet desired to be healthier. Aspects of the prototype willingness model also encouraged more change over the social cognitive theory or the extended parallel processing model. Contrary to expectations, Study 2 showed no significant change over time nor more improvements in the chronic disease manipulation over time. Exploratory moderators of sex, employment status, and eating schema were also found to primarily influence healthy food intentions and attitudes over time and between manipulations. As expected, the chronic disease manipulation had more positive outcomes when these moderators were tested. For future research, a focus on chronic disease and feasible options with a low-income positive deviant example may provide the best avenue over other nutrition topics for effective health change in this population.

Keywords

Low-income, Focus groups, Nutrition, Education, Longitudinal, Behavior

Disciplines

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Comments

Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Psychology Commons

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