Social valorisation of stoutness as a determinant of obesity in the context of nutritional transition in Cameroon: The Bamileke case
ABSTRACT Body size perceptions were assessed among members of the Bamiléké, an ethnic group in an urban setting in Cameroon with high rates of obesity, but also a positive perception of stoutness in its social representations. We first implemented a qualitative study (April 2007) to identify local representations of body weight among Bamiléké using semi-structured interviews. We then quantitatively assessed body size perceptions among a representative sample of Bamiléké (May to June 2007), employing a body image assessment scale and a questionnaire that included declarative body weight self-satisfaction, health status, and attempts to reduce weight. Results indicate Desired Body Size (DBS) for women, and particularly for men, was situated in the overweight category. Qualitative analyses show that overweight is considered as a normal and healthy body size in the Bamiléké. On the other hand, the quantitative study reveals that high rates of obesity, especially in women (40.8% obese), are associated with high blood pressure. Moreover, subjects who had a negative perception of their health status wanted to lose weight (p < 0.01). Unlike males, females have a DBS lower than their Current Body Size (p < 0.001). In addition, subjects (particularly males) who felt they were too lean, were older than those who felt too fat. We therefore conclude that the social valorisation of stoutness exposes Bamiléké, particularly males, to obesity. Although the women stated a desire to lose weight and present aesthetic criteria more oriented towards slimness, the attitude of the Bamiléké remained oriented toward stoutness appreciation. This preference can help protect against body image disturbances identified in Western societies, but may also increase of the incidence of obesity and its associated pathologies in this part of the world.
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ABSTRACT: The emergence of a nutrition transition in developing countries might lead to higher prevalence of obesity and related adverse health effects. In Cameroon,urbanization growth rate is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Such dramatic demographic change favours important modifications, notably in nutritional patterns. In this paper we examine the current prevalence of overweight and obesity in Yaounde,the capital city of Cameroon and search for possible causal factors. Detrimental consequences of overweight are also discussed. Samples of adults (519 women, 252 men) of all ages in all districts of Yaounde were subjected to anthropometric and body composition measurements, blood pressure and resting heart rate determination, and interviewer-administered questionnaires on socio-demography, smoking habits, physical activity, self-perception of body weight and health status. In both sexes body mass index (BMI) increases with age and peaks in the years of maturity. These changes are related to changes in adiposity. Prevalence rates of overweight(BMI >or= 25) and obesity (BMI > or = 30) increase from 20 to 29 years and peak at 40-49 years in men and at 50-59 years in women before starting to decline. One woman in two is overweight and one woman in five is obese, whereas one-third of men are overweight and only 5% are obese. Obese subjects have a larger age-adjusted waist to hip ratio(WHR) than their non-overweight counterparts, attesting that fat gain is oriented towards a more abdominal fat mass distribution. The length of residence in Yaounde, increasing education level, occupation, ethnicity, physical inactivity and smoking practices appear to influence early overweight and/or obesity. No parity effect is observed in women. From the present study, it appears that obesity, and especially obesity in women, could be less benign than that described in other studies in Africa. Research is needed in Cameroon, including aetiological and cohort studies aimed at the quantification of morbidity and mortality risks associated with overweight and obesity.Annals of Human Biology 09/2003; 30(5):551-62. DOI:10.1080/0301446032000112652 · 1.15 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To assess beliefs about body size (fatness and thinness) and body image in Black girls aged 10-18 years living in Cape Town. Exploratory using qualitative methods. Cape Town, South Africa. Participants were Black African girls (n=240), aged 10-18 years, who attended 5 primary and 6 high schools in Black townships in Cape Town. The schools and the girls were randomly selected. This paper presents qualitative data from 6 focus groups among 60 girls regarding their beliefs about thinness and fatness, and the advantages and disadvantages of being overweight or thin. Beliefs regarding body image indicate that two thirds of the girls perceived fatness as a sign of happiness and wealth. Socially, fatness was accepted but one third of the girls had contradictory views about its advantages. Among obese girls who believed that being obese was preferable, the dominant reasons were that being fat allowed one to engage in sport activities that need strength and also makes one look respectable. On the other hand fatness was viewed as associated with diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and with increased difficulty in finding appropriate clothing sizes. Three quarters of the girls associated thinness with ill health particularly HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis. An advantage of thinness was being less prone to develop chronic non-communicable diseases. The study shows that opinions and beliefs about body image start in adolescence. It is therefore important to consider these perceptions when designing interventions for preventing obesity and other chronic non-communicable diseases during early childhood.Ethnicity & disease 01/2010; 20(1):29-34. · 0.92 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We assessed intergenerational differences in food, physical activity, and body size perceptions among refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa living in Victoria, Australia. We used a qualitative design and obtained data from 48 participants (18 individual interviews; 3 semistructured focus groups). Three major themes emerged: (a) food and physical activity, (b) preference of body size and social expectations, and (c) perceived consequences of various body sizes. For parents, large body size was perceived to equate with being beautiful and wealthy; slimness was associated with chronic illness and poverty. Parents adopted strategies that promoted weight gain in children. These included tailored food practices and restricting children's involvement in physical activity. For young people, slimness was the ideal body size endorsed by their peers, and they adopted strategies to resist parental pressure to gain weight. Obesity-prevention programs in this subpopulation need to adopt a multigenerational approach.Qualitative Health Research 11/2011; 22(6):740-54. DOI:10.1177/1049732311425051 · 2.19 Impact Factor