Healthy Eating Habit Score; Poor Nutrition and Diet; Chronic Diseases; Low Income; African American


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion


Introduction: Poor nutrition and diet are significant contributors to the development of chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, particularly among individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES).This study examined demographic and lifestyle factors that influenced decisions to engage in healthy eating behaviors among low-income African Americans in three urban Tennessee cities.

Methods: As part of the Meharry Community Networks Program (CNP) needs assessment, a 123-item community survey was administered to assess demographic characteristics and eating behaviors among low-income African Americans. The total sample size was 1116. The primary outcome of interest was the healthy eating habits score which was calculated from a 13-item questionnaire that was part of the community survey.

Results: Several statistically significant differences were observed between the mean healthy eating habits scores by sociodemographic variables such as marital status, age, education, and geographic location (P < 0.05). Additionally, significant differences were observed by strategies used for maintaining weight including reducing fat and carbohydrate intake and exercising (P < 0.05). There were also significant differences observed by obstacles to eating low fat foods including family habits and food preparation time (P < 0.05).

Discussion: Educational interventions aimed at weight-loss and improving healthy eating should incorporate information about obstacles and predictors to healthy eating.