Exploratory Investigation of Obesity Risk and Prevention in Chinese Americans

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Abstract

Objective: To examine the beliefs and attitudes related to obesity risk and its prevention in Chinese Americans via in-depth, qualitative interviews using the guiding tenets of Health Belief Model, Theory of Planned Behavior, and social ecological models. Design: A qualitative study using tenets of the Health Belief Model, the Theory of Planned Behavior, and social ecological models. Setting: The New York City metropolitan area. Participants: Forty young Chinese American adults (24 females; 16 males) were interviewed. Main Outcome Measures: Obesity risk and prevention. Analysis: Common themes were identified, coded, and compared using NVivo computer software. Results: Poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles were seen as major weight gain contributors. Obesity was seen predominately as a non-Asian phenomenon, although 60% of the participants felt susceptible to obesity. Physical and social environmental factors were the overriding themes generated as to the causes of weight gain among young adult Chinese Americans. Physical factors included the powerful effect of media-generated advertisements and a plethora of inexpensive fast and convenience foods emphasizing large portion sizes of low nutrient density. The social environment encourages the consumption of large quantities of these foods. Traditional Chinese cuisine was seen as providing more healthful alternatives, but increasing acculturation to American lifestyle results in less traditional food consumption. Some traditional Chinese beliefs regarding the desirability of a slightly heavy physique can encourage overeating. Conclusion and Implications: Nutrition educators need to be public policy advocates for environments providing tasty, low cost, healthful foods. Young adult Chinese Americans seek knowledge and skills for making convenient healthful food selections in the midst of a culture that advocates and provides an abundance of unhealthful choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007

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Keywords

  • Chinese Americans
  • obesity prevention
  • psychosocial theories
  • qualitative

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