Arab American College Students' Physical Activity and Body Composition: Reconciling Middle East-West Differences Using the Socioecological Model
Author: Kahan, David
Source: Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1 March 2011, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 118-128(11)
Abstract:In this study, I conducted focus group interviews with 21 Arab American college students (9 men, 12 women; 9 Muslims, 12 non-Muslims), who were selected for extreme manifestation of religiosity or acculturation, to explore their beliefs and attitudes toward socioecological (SE) factors that facilitated and hindered their individual physical activity (PA) and body composition (I also considered body image and food and eating behavior). To analyze responses, I used a combination of deductive coding, which used levels of the SE model and demographic variable groupings, and inductive coding, to search for common themes among participants within and between research questions. Results revealed that (a) the context of physical activity participation differed by gender; (b) ideal body image was conflicted and varied by gender; and (c) consumption of cultural foods diminished along with Arab social customs related to eating. Interpersonal and cultural/community levels of the SE model were identified as primary influences, with parents regulating and instilling values backed by cultural norms to preserve Arab identity, especially in women. Finally, I identified an indeterminate adjustment period, during which immigrants transitioned between physical activity purpose/form in the Middle East and the United States.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2011-03-01T00:00:00