Research Summary: Risky Food Safety Behaviors Are Associated with Higher Bmi and Lower Healthy Eating Self-Efficacy and Intentions among African American Churchgoers in Baltimore



There are an estimated 9.4 million cases of foodborne illness each year. Consumers have a key role in preventing foodborne illness, but differences in the practice of food safety behaviors exist, increasing risk for certain groups in the population. Identifying groups who are more likely to practice risky food safety behaviors can assist in development of interventions to reduce the disease burden of foodborne illnesses. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationships of health indicators and psychosocial factors with self-reported food safety behaviors.

Methods and Findings

Data were collected via questionnaire from 153 African Americans who attend churches in Baltimore City. Individuals reported high overall concern with food safety (mean score: 0.80±0.49 on a scale of −1 to +1) and practiced food safety behaviors with moderate overall frequency (mean score: 5.26±4.01 on a scale of −12 to +12), with considerable variation in reported frequencies depending on the food safety behavior. After adjusting for demographic variables, food safety behaviors were significantly associated with BMI and psychosocial variables. Riskier food safety behaviors were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) (β = −0.141 95%CI (−0.237, −0.044), p = 0.004). Self-efficacy for healthy eating (standard β [std. β] = 0.250, p = 0.005) and healthy eating intentions (std. β = 0.178, p = 0.041) were associated with better food safety behaviors scores.


These results show important relationships between weight-related health indicators, psychosocial factors and food safety behaviors that have not previously been studied. Interventions tailored to higher-risk populations have the potential to reduce the burden of food-related illnesses. Additional studies are needed to further investigate these relationships with larger and more diverse samples.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 20-December-2012

Author(s): Anderson Steeves E., Silbergeld E., Summers A., Chen L., Gittelsohn J.


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