Influences on body weight of female Moroccan migrants in the Netherlands: A qualitative study


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Abstract

We aimed to gain insight into the influences on Moroccan migrant women's weight and weight-related behavior by enriching their perspectives with those of their non-migrant compatriots living in Morocco. In focus groups with migrant women in Amsterdam, participants attributed overweight to traditional Moroccan foods and food culture. In contrast, focus group participants in Morocco emphasized that overweight in migrants was largely due to their adoption of the Western diet. Results from women in both locations indicate a general lack of knowledge regarding appropriate physical activity. Migrants attributed their lower levels of physical activity to changes in lifestyle due to migration and reported having problems adjusting to these changes. All participants reported a cultural shift in preference towards slimmer body sizes. However, weight gain still tends to be seen as a sign of success. In designing interventions, universal approaches may be sufficient to address migration-related influences on behavior; however behavior that is driven by migrants' socio-cultural context may require more culturally appropriate strategies.

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