Date of Award


Degree Name

Communication Studies


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Jill Underhill

Second Advisor

Camilla Brammer

Third Advisor

Stephen Underhill


Obesity disproportionately affects Appalachia and poses a great risk to young adults who already enact poor health behaviors. Research indicates perceptions of risk and efficacy beliefs related to obesity-preventative behaviors are motivating for positive health-related behavioral change. Moreover, literature reveals that social and emotional risks of obesity may be just as motivating as physical risks. The Risk Perception Attitude (RPA) framework posits that efficacy moderates the effect of perceived risk on associated behavioral outcomes. However, neither the RPA nor other literature addresses the role of stigma in this relationship, though obesity stigma has been linked to a variety of negative consequences. This study utilized the RPA framework to investigate the relationship between perceived obesity risks and health self-efficacy beliefs among a sample of young adults. The study also examined stigma as a potential factor in this framework. An online survey was used to collect data from 498 young adults, 263 of whom self-identified as Appalachian. Data analysis provided support for hypothesized relationships, the influence of stigma, and partial validation for the RPA framework. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.


Risk perception -- Appalachian Region.

Obesity -- Appalachian Region.