In rural America, high rates of obesity are influenced by a lack of education and limited community resources. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of an educational intervention on recommended nutrition and body mass index knowledge and to describe the perceived stress in a rural female faith community. A quantitative quasi-experimental pre-test post-test research design was used. English speaking female participants (N=49) 18 years of age and older from two rural community churches received an educational intervention based on the Health Belief Model. Participants completed a demographic survey, self-reported height and weight, general nutrition knowledge questionnaire, and perceived stress scale. Pearson’s correlation and paired t-test were performed. Findings from this study show a small, positive correlation between the variables perceived stress and BMI (r = 0.003, n = 49, p < 0.05) with levels of perceived stress associated with BMI and a positive correlation between variable perceived stress and pre-test general nutrition knowledge score. There was a statistically significant difference in stress score among the weight groups (Normal 18.5-24.9, Overweight 25-29.9, Obese 30 or greater) F (2, 48) = 5.55, p = .0069. Tukey HSD indicated the difference in the perceived stress scores were higher in the overweight group (M =20.62, SD = 4.62) from the normal weight group (M = 16.19, SD = 3.49). Findings support that perceived stress in rural women is higher before reaching obesity. Faith community nurses could utilize similar educational strategies to develop and implement programs in their health ministry community.

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