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Decision-Making Process about Food Choices and Physical Activity among Black Women Living in New York City: A Qualitative Study

Introduction: There is a high prevalence of obesity among Black women in the US. Food choices and physical activity are among the key influences of body-mass index. Both food choices and physical activity are often influenced by complex decision-making processes. Objective: To explore the decision-making process regarding food choices and physical activity among Black women. Design: A qualitative research design was selected to conduct focus groups that gained new insights underlying the decision-making process for food choices and physical activity. Sample: Purposive sample of eight Black women, interested in sharing how they made decisions around food choices and physical activity, were recruited in Brooklyn, New York. Results: Four themes and 13 subthemes emerged. The participants’ environment contributed to their knowledge about food. For example, they knew what healthy and unhealthy foods were and were aware of US. nutritional content and requirements. The participants’ cultures and habits had an influence on food choices; and they valued and preferred physical activity such as dancing and walking but despite access within their environment, they declined participation in gymnasium type exercises. Finally, their weight preferences were non-scientific, which distorted their concept of weight and the normalization of obesity. Conclusions: The decision-making process about food choices and physical activity stemmed from sources of information, family/cultural values and personal preferences within the context of their environment.


May T Dobal, Yvonne Wesley, Feleta L Wilson

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