178423 Formative research in a multi-cultural public health environment to engage African American women and Latinas in achieving a healthy weight

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:15 AM

Eleanor Long, MSPH , Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Sharen Anthony, MFCC RD , PHFE-WIC - (Public Health Foundation), Irwindale, CA
Deebra Smith, MPH (6/08) , Department of Health Sciences, California State University, Northridge, North Hollywood, CA
Tania Villalobos, MPH (6/08) , Community Health Education, California State University, Long Beach, Los Angeles, CA
Yamin Aung, MPH (6/08) , Department of Health Sciences, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Cynthia Harding, MPH , Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Deborah Glik, ScD , School of Public Health, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA
Design: Qualitative, exploratory approach; data were collected in eleven focus group sessions using a semi-structured questionnaire.

Subjects/Setting: Focus groups were conducted during the summer of 2007 at various Women, Infants and Children sites in a greater Los Angeles area. A total of 47 low-income women participated - 33 Spanish-speaking and 14 African American, aged 18 to 44.

Analysis: Recurring themes within group discussion were identified by three independent investigators, one who was ethnicity concordant

Results: Information from this qualitative study demonstrates that cultural beliefs, environmental, psychological and social factors can be barriers to successful prevention and treatment of overweight. When body image and cultural norms were discussed, African American women reported preferring to be overweight. Many dismissed the BMI chart as well as advice to lose weight when delivered by Caucasian/Asian providers as not relevant for Black women. Both groups want to receive care from the same ethnic background providers. Both groups expressed similar barriers to healthy eating and regular physical activity. Barriers included: convenience of fast food, a taste for fast foods, advertising, lack of access and affordability of quality foods, lack of childcare and cooking skills, lack of recreational opportunities and community safety.

Conclusions: Health education efforts must be based on direct knowledge of the belief systems and cultural frameworks of the targeted populations. Health care providers must be prepared to adjust educational approaches to the cultural background of the clients. Environmental barriers to healthy behaviors must be addressed for long-term success.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objectives: By the end of the session, the participant will be able to discuss the results of focus groups conducted that revealed the feelings, values and experiences that shape how Latina & African American women think and act in relation to healthy weight, physical activity and eating. By the end of the session, the participant will be able to identify barriers that must be addressed in providing culturally appropriate health care messages to women in the multi-cultural setting, such as Los Angeles County.

Keywords: Obesity, Public Health Education and Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Health Education Coordinator for the Maternal, Child & Adolescent Programs of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. I hold a Master's degree in Public Health from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. The research that I will be reporting did not receive any commercial support. It was totally funded through the Department of Public Health and was in collaboration with WIC.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.