Perceived Barriers to Exercise and Healthy Eating Among Women from Disadvantaged Neighborhoods: Results from a Focus Groups Assessment

Meghan Baruth, Patricia A. Sharpe, Deborah Parra-Medina, Sara Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study explored perceptions and experiences with barriers to exercise and healthy eating among women from predominately African American, disadvantaged neighborhoods. Four focus groups (n = 28) were conducted between April and May 2008 with overweight or obese women (93% African American; 34.3 ± 8.9 years; body mass index [BMI] 40.4 ± 8.5). Individual, social, and environmental factors were frequently mentioned as barriers to exercise and healthy eating. Insults from strangers about their body size (e.g., from children or people at the gym), and feelings of intimidation and embarrassment about not being able to complete exercises due to their body size were described as barriers to exercise. Lack of support and pressure from family, friends, and co-workers were barriers to healthy eating; participants experienced pressure from family and friends to eat more and were told they did not need to lose weight. Participants discussed the importance of not losing their curves; this concern needs to be considered when developing weight control programs for African American women. The findings of this qualitative study guided the development of a weight loss intervention for women from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-353
Number of pages18
JournalWomen and Health
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • African American women
  • barriers
  • healthy eating
  • low income
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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