5314.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 9:15 PM

Abstract #3290

Traditional customs and the prevention of obesity: An international comparison with program recommendations

Steven R. Hawks, Ed.D., CHES, Southeast Utah Center for Continuing Education, Utah State University, PO Box 938, Moab, UT 84532, (435)259-7432, steveh@ext.usu.edu

The theme of this presentation centers on the relationship between traditional customs and the transition from malnutrition to overnutrition that is taking place in many parts of the world. At the macro level, changing patterns in the world wide prevalence of obesity are generally explained in terms of broad social, environmental, and biological factors (e.g. food choice availability, occupational activity level, and biological predisposition). And yet most obesity prevention programs target individual behavior change at the micro level (i.e. personal choices in relation to caloric intake, exercise, and diet composition). Obesity prevention and management programs at the international level will be most successful if they can simultaneously address both the cultural influences that motivate personal behaviors, and the macro level determinants of obesity. This presentation uses an extensive review of the literature to identify the most relevant cultural factors that influence individual behavior as it relates to obesity prevention and management (e.g. media influences, attitudes about thinness, self-esteem, dietary preferences, and peer influences). The diverse expression of these influences is compared across several cultures and then analyzed within the broader context of social, environmental, and biological forces over which the individual has little or no control. Recommendations are made for improving obesity prevention programs by incorporating culturally sensitive approaches, and by addressing social and environmental determinants of obesity at the same time that individual behaviors and attitudes are being targeted.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participant will be able to: 1. Evaluate the changing prevalence of obesity in a diverse selection of countries and cultures. 2. Explain patterns of obesity in terms of social/cultural/environmental influences. 3. In terms of importance, prioritize five traditional customs that influence personal behaviors related to the development of obesity. 4. Describe the most common obesity prevention strategies recommended in the professional literature. 5. Critique obesity prevention practices from a culturally sensitive perspective. 6. Outline the crucial elements of an obesity prevention program that can accomodate a given set of cultural beliefs or practices within the context of social, environmental, and biological determinants of obesity

Keywords: Obesity, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: N/A
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA