A qualitative analysis of black and white British women’s attitudes to weight and weight control
Background: Rates of obesity among black African and black Caribbean women in the UK are consistently higher than among white women. Cultural, attitudinal and behavioural differences may contribute to ethnic variation in weight, and the present study aimed to explore attitudes towards weight and weight control among black and white British women using a qualitative approach.
Methods: Ethnically homogeneous focus groups were carried out with 25 white women [mean (SD) body mass index (BMI, kg m–2) = 26 (7.2) kg m–2] and 24 black women [mean (SD) BMI = 29 (6.6) kg m–2]. Women were recruited from London boroughs (Lambeth, Southwark and Croydon) and Guildford, Surrey, and focus groups were conducted in London. Focus groups were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: All participants had fairly good knowledge of the causes, consequences and treatment of being overweight. However, black women primarily emphasised the health consequences of being overweight, whereas white women were more likely to focus on the perceived social and emotional consequences. White women associated being overweight with negative character traits, whereas black women had a broadly positive attitude towards larger body sizes.
Conclusions: Black women were as well‐informed about the causes and health risks of obesity as white women in this sample of mainly educated, working women, although they were more accepting of larger body sizes and experienced less social pressure to be slim.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Epidemiology and Public Health, University College, London, UK
Publication date: 2011-12-01