Genetic causal beliefs about obesity, self-efficacy for weight control, and obesity-related behaviours in a middle-aged female cohort.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Psychology & health, p.1-28 (2015)


OBJECTIVE: Obesity is a heritable condition with well-established risk-reducing behaviours. Studies have shown that beliefs about the causes of obesity are associated with diet and exercise behaviour. Identifying mechanisms linking causal beliefs and behaviours is important for obesity prevention and control.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional multi-level regression analyses of self-efficacy for weight control as a possible mediator of obesity attributions (diet, physical activity, genetic) and preventive behaviours in 487 non-Hispanic White women from South King County, Washington.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported daily fruit and vegetable intake and weekly leisure-time physical activity.

RESULTS: Diet causal beliefs were positively associated with fruit and vegetable intake, with self-efficacy for weight control partially accounting for this association. Self-efficacy for weight control also indirectly linked physical activity attributions and physical activity behaviour. Relationships between genetic causal beliefs, self-efficacy for weight control, and obesity-related behaviours differed by obesity status. Self-efficacy for weight control contributed to negative associations between genetic causal attributions and obesity-related behaviours in non-obese, but not obese, women.

CONCLUSION: Self-efficacy is an important construct to include in studies of genetic causal beliefs and behavioural self-regulation. Theoretical and longitudinal work is needed to clarify the causal nature of these relationships and other mediating and moderating factors.