Self-Efficacy, Health Literacy, and Nutrition and Exercise Behaviors in a Low-Income, Hispanic Population
Public health goals have emphasized healthy nutrition and exercise behaviors, especially in underserved populations. According to social cognitive theory (SCT), self-efficacy and capability (e.g., health literacy) may interact to predict preventative behaviors. We surveyed 100 low-income, native Spanish-speakers living in the United States who were low in English proficiency and predominantly of Mexican heritage. Participants reported their nutritional and exercise self-efficacy, Spanish health literacy, and nutrition and physical activity behaviors. Consistent with SCT, the interaction of self-efficacy and health literacy significantly predicted fruit and vegetable consumption and weekly exercise, and marginally predicted avoidance of high fat foods. For all three interactions, higher health literacy levels strengthened the positive relationship between self-efficacy and health behaviors. The results offer support for the tenets of SCT and suggest—for low-income, Spanish-speaking adults—that a combination of behavioral confidence and literacy capability are necessary to enact appropriate health behaviors.
KeywordsSelf-efficacy Health literacy Social cognitive theory Exercise and physical activity Nutrition Hispanic
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