Cultural Attitudes Toward Weight, Diet, and Physical Activity Among Overweight African American Girls

Institute for Health, Social and Community Research, Shaw University, 900 S Wilmington St, Suite 220, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA.
Preventing chronic disease (Impact Factor: 2.12). 05/2008; 5(2):A36.
Source: PubMed


The growing epidemic of childhood obesity has led to an increasing focus on strategies for prevention. However, little is known about attitudes and perceptions toward weight, diet, and physical activity among American youth, and particularly among young African American females. This pilot study sought to qualitatively explore cultural attitudes and perceptions toward body image, food, and physical activity among a sample of overweight African American girls.
We recruited 12 overweight girls, aged 12 to 18 years, from a hospital-based pediatric diabetes screening and prevention program. Five semistructured group interviews were conducted to explore attitudes on weight, diet, and physical activity. Sessions averaged 1 hour and were conducted by trained interviewers. Data were transcribed and evaluated for content and relevant themes.
The following themes emerged: weight and body size preferences were primarily determined by the individual and her immediate social circle and were less influenced by opinions of those outside of the social circle; food choices depended on texture, taste, appearance, and context more than on nutritional value; engagement in recreational physical activity was influenced by time constraints from school and extracurricular activities and by neighborhood safety; participation in structured exercise was limited because of the cost and time related to maintenance of personal aesthetics (hair and nails); and celebrities were not perceived as role models for diet and physical activity habits.
In this sample of girls, the findings imply that perceptions of weight and healthy lifestyle behaviors are largely determined by environmental and personal influences. These factors should be considered in the development of healthy-weight interventions for African American girls.

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    • "Cultural considerations and peer opinion must be considered in perceived barriers to PA among various subgroups. Black and Hispanic girls are more accepting of larger body size than White girls, as evidenced by that White girls with a BMI closer to obese being found to have less social desirability than White girls with a BMI closer to normal weight by their peers (Boyington et al., 2008; Lanza, Echols, & Graham, 2013). Peer social environment , including low peer PA levels—especially among female friends—is another perceived barrier to PA for adolescent girls (Larson, Wall, Story, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Inadequate physical activity (PA) contributes to the high prevalence of overweight and obesity among U.S. adolescent girls. Barriers preventing adolescent girls from meeting PA guidelines have not been thoroughly examined. The threefold purpose of this study was to (a) determine pubertal stage, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic status (SES) differences in ratings of interference of barriers to PA; (b) examine relationships between perceived barriers and age, body mass index, recreational screen time, sedentary activity, and PA; and (c) identify girls' top-rated perceived barriers to PA. Girls (N = 509) from eight Midwestern U.S. schools participated. Demographic, pubertal stage, perceived barriers, and recreational screen time data were collected via surveys. Height and weight were measured. Accelerometers measured sedentary activity, moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and light plus MVPA. Girls of low SES reported greater interference of perceived barriers to PA than those who were not of low SES (1.16 vs. 0.97, p = .01). Girls in early/middle puberty had lower perceived barriers than those in late puberty (1.03 vs. 1.24, p < .001). Girls' perceived barriers were negatively related to MVPA (r = -.10, p = .03) and light plus MVPA (r = -.11, p = .02). Girls' top five perceived barriers included lack of skills, hating to sweat, difficulty finding programs, being tired, and having pain. Innovative interventions, particularly focusing on skill development, are needed to assist girls in overcoming their perceived barriers to PA.
    Nursing research 09/2015; 64(5):342-50. DOI:10.1097/NNR.0000000000000113 · 1.36 Impact Factor
    • "Furthermore, ethnicity and SES were considered to different extents in the primary studies, as evident in Table 3. Eight of 15 studies related ethnicity and/or SES to at least one barrier via link to quotation in the results section [29,34], synthesising the potential influence of ethnicity and/or SES in the discussion section [10,31,33,35,36] or both [37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: A systematic review of qualitative studies was undertaken to understand the barriers to physical activity experienced by adolescents who were overweight or obese. From a search of electronic databases and 'grey' literature, published between 1950 and 2009, 15 studies met the inclusion criteria. Bronfenbrenner's model of human development provided an ecological lens for identifying and synthesising barriers to physical activity. Two reviewers appraised study quality. Miles and Huberman's cross-case analysis was integrated with thematic networking to synthesize the individual, interpersonal and environmental level barriers for boys and girls of different ethnicities and socioeconomic status, across school settings and generalised context. Thirty-five barriers were identified, 13 of which occurred in physical activity situations in the school setting, 18 were not linked to a specific setting, and the remainder were common across both contexts. The fact that these barriers emerged from studies that focused on topics such as victimisation and mental health is particularly poignant and reflects the potentially pervasive influence of adolescent's excessive weight not only in relation to physical activity situations but other aspects of their lives. Furthermore, socioeconomic status and ethnicity was poorly considered, with only one study linking these participant characteristics to quotations and discussing the potential implications. At present, there are few qualitative studies with sufficiently thick description or interpretive validity that provide insight into this vulnerable group of adolescents, and give them a voice to influence policy and practice.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 05/2012; 9(1):53. DOI:10.1186/1479-5868-9-53 · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    • "Findings from this study suggested that sensory factors, specifically taste and aesthetics, were primary motivators involved in food choice [20,21]. Other studies have explored how cultural attitudes [22] and perceptions of healthy eating and the food environment influence food choice [23,24]. These studies indicated that taste, texture, and appearance were more important for food choices than nutritional content [22]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Many people lack access to food stores that provide healthful food. Neighborhoods with poor supermarket access have been characterized as "food deserts" (as contrast with "food oases"). This study explored factors influencing food buying practices among residents of food deserts versus food oases in the city of Boston, USA. We used the mixed-methods approach of concept mapping, which allows participants to identify, list, and organize their perceptions according to importance. Resulting maps visually illustrate priority areas. Sixty-seven low-income adults completed the concept mapping process that identified 163 unique statements (e.g. relating to affordability, taste, and convenience) that influence food buying practices. Multivariate statistical techniques grouped the 163 statements into 8 clusters or concepts. Results showed that average cluster ratings and rankings were similar between residents of food deserts and food oases. The implication of this study pertains to the importance of community resources and emergency food assistance programs that have served to minimize the burden associated with hunger and poor food access among low-income, urban populations.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 04/2012; 9(1):41. DOI:10.1186/1479-5868-9-41 · 4.11 Impact Factor
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