Lifestyle Inequalities: Explaining Socioeconomic Differences in Preventive Practices of Clinically Overweight Women After Menopause

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Abstract

Excess weight and menopause are two major factors increasing aging women’s vulnerability to chronic diseases. However, social position and socioeconomic status have also been identified as major determinants influencing both health behaviors and the development of such diseases. This study focuses on the socioeconomic variations of behavioral risk factors of chronic diseases in aging women. By drawing on Bourdieu’s sociocultural theory of practice, 40 semistructured interviews were conducted to investigate preventive health practices of clinically overweight, postmenopausal women from contrasting socioeconomic classes living in Canada. Findings emphasize class-based differences with respect to long-term health and preventive practices according to three major themes: priority to long-term time horizons, attention given to risk factors of diseases, and control over future health. Health care providers should strive to work in concert with all subgroups of women to better understand their values, worldviews, and needs to decrease health inequalities after menopause.

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