Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Dr. Charlton Coles

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the health-related beliefs and perceptions of low-income African American women regarding obesity. Phenomenology served as the conceptual framework for this study. African American women, especially those in low-income brackets, have been shown to weigh more than women of other racial/ethnic groups. The consequences of these high rates are increased risks of developing chronic health disorders, such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study sample consisted of 7 low-income obese African American women, ranging in age from 20 to 62, who resided in the Pacific Northwest. Recruitment for participation occurred via flyers, which were advertised in hair salons, churches, and community health clinics where African American women frequented. The women participated in audio-taped interviews, which were then transcribed and thematically analyzed. Findings showed that these 7 African American women had poor exercise and dietary behaviors that led to increased health risks. This study uncovered culturally-based traditions and provided insight into how these traditions may have influenced unhealthy behaviors. Educational health topics can be developed to include ways to more effectively address healthy behaviors for these women and how these women can play and more active role in decreasing excessive weight. This research may contribute to the literature by providing more awareness into this growing social and health problem among this vulnerable population. This study has implications for positive social change by increasing greater understanding into the complex reasons for obesity among low-income African American women.