Date of Conferral





Public Health




Obesity or being overweight is a prevalent health concern around the world. Despite the growing problem in developing countries such as Kenya, there is scant literature available on obesity or being overweight among women in rural Kenya. This research study provides information necessary for bridging the gap in understanding the perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge of obesity among women in rural Kenya. This study used the social cognitive theory (SCT) framework to assist in understanding the impact of obesity or being overweight among women living in rural Kenya. Participants were women aged 20 to 45 recruited from a local church in rural Subukia. Using a phenomenological inquiry, in-depth interviews were conducted. Data obtained were analyzed by open coding. Themes that emerged from data analysis showed that less than half of the study participants had an appropriate knowledge of obesity. Participants desired to have big round bodies, as it was perceived as desirable and as being healthy. However, this perception put these women at increased risk of obesity and associated health risks. Implications for positive social change include the use of study findings by policy makers to develop obesity prevention programs. Such programs may promote obesity awareness and obesity prevention strategies. This promotion may include providing education on topics such as healthy nutrition and the importance of physical activity. Policy makers may develop obesity prevention programs aimed at not only educating, but also empowering rural communities to practice healthy lifestyles based on their cultural and social norms. Such empowerment may encourage the adoption of obesity reducing lifestyles and positive behavior change.