health behavior, low income, rural population



  1. Kaiser, Betty L.
  2. Brown, Roger L.
  3. Baumann, Linda C.


Background: Despite the increased use of ecological models in health behavior research, multilevel influences on health behaviors in rural, low-income people, an aggregate at high risk for sedentary behavior and inadequate diets, have been examined in few studies.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe influences on physical activity and diet in low-income, rural adults.


Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews in a convenience sample of 137 low-income Anglo and Latino adults recruited from two rural Wisconsin counties. The survey included questions on health behaviors, self-efficacy, barriers, social support, and community environments. Self-report data on physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake were categorized into outcome variables of meets recommendation or does not meet recommendation. Latent class cluster analysis was used to identify clusters of participants with similar influences on health behaviors, and cluster membership was used as an independent variable in logistic regression of physical activity and diet outcomes.


Results: Fifty-two percent of participants met a recommendation for physical activity, but only 8% met their MyPyramid recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake. Participants in the moderate self-efficacy/high safety cluster were significantly more likely than those in the low self-efficacy/moderate safety cluster to meet a recommendation for physical activity (odds ratio = 2.65). For healthy diet, participants in the low barriers cluster were significantly more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables (odds ratio = 4.13) than those in the high barriers cluster.


Discussion: People with healthier behaviors were distinguished from those with less healthy behaviors by higher levels of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and community supports. Results support the importance of multilevel approaches to promoting healthy lifestyles in rural, low-income adults.