Perceptions and Beliefs About Body Size, Weight, and Weight Loss Among Obese African American Women: A Qualitative Inquiry

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore perceptions and beliefs about body size, weight, and weight loss among obese African American women in order to form a design of weight loss intervention with this target population. Six focus groups were conducted at a community health clinic. Participants were predominantly middle-aged with a mean Body Mass Index of 40.3 ± 9.2 kg/m2. Findings suggest that participants (a) believe that people can be attractive and healthy at larger sizes; (b) still feel dissatisfied with their weight and self-conscious about their bodies; (c) emphasize eating behavior as the primary cause for weight gain; (d) view pregnancy, motherhood, and caregiving as major precursors to weight gain; (e) view health as the most important reason to lose weight; (f) have mixed experiences and expectations for social support for weight loss; and (g) prefer treatments that incorporate long-term lifestyle modification rather than fad diets or medication.

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