Exploring Social & Information Influence on Obesity Risk among Indian Adults

There has been little research conducted within developing nations examining the link between knowledge and diet-related perceptions and behaviors. In addition, prior investigations have rarely examined interrelationships between knowledge and other nutrition-related factors.

C+MRC research fellow Christopher J. McKinley (associate professor in SCM) and Yam B. Limbu (associate professor in the School of Business) and their international team of researchers explore the relationship between nutrition knowledge, social/informational factors, and diet-related outcomes among Indian adults with multiple chronic conditions.

Their study, “Nutrition Knowledge and Diet: Exploring the Influence of Social and Informational Factors in an Indian Adult Population” was published online in an August 2018 issue of the American Journal of Health Education.

McKinley et al. employed a snowball sampling technique to recruit individuals and a hierarchical regression analysis to examine mediating and moderating relationships. A cross-sectional survey indicated that knowledge only predicted use among those reporting greater pressure/concern from close others. Social support and social trust were found to moderate the relationship between knowledge and diet-related perceptions and behaviors. The study suggests that social factors may play a critical role in moderating the impact of nutrition knowledge on diet-related perceptions and behaviors.

Health education in developing nations should therefore aim to maximize consumers’ nutrition knowledge while identifying valued close others who can help encourage positive health action. Health educators, government and local communities must engage in outreach efforts to reinforce or, if necessary, change public perceptions regarding the food industry.

[download the full article]

[Listen to Dr. McKinley discuss his health communication research in a 2018 C+MRC podcast interview]

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Dr. Christopher McKinley’s current research examines persuasive appeals aimed at promoting healthier behavior. He is particularly interested in the influence of narrative-based appeals on promoting health decision-making and is working on a project examining the influence of unique components of obesity-focused testimonials on healthy eating behavior. Dr. McKinley is also exploring the role of various social and cultural factors on food label use and organic food consumption. Follow him on Twitter: @christo49ers