Socio-Cultural and Environmental Factors that Influence Weight-Related Behaviors: Focus Group Results from African-American Girls and Their Mothers

Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, University of Minnesota
Alexis W. Adams-Wynn, Detroit Health Department
Olubunmi Orekoya, Metropolitan Hospital Center
Sofiya Alhassan, y, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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African-American girls experience higher rates of obesity than other youth and are more likely to live in environments that may inhibit healthy lifestyles. Focus groups with African-American girls (14.2 +/- 2.36 years) and their mothers were conducted to explore socio-cultural and physical factors within the home, neighborhood, and school environments that influence physical activity (PA) and food choices (i.e., availability and accessibility). Being active at home was dependent on availability of unstructured PA, possibility of activity with family/friends/pet, structured sports in the community, and perceived safety of neighborhood. Girls reported unhealthy foods and excessive snacking as issues at home while citing choice of school meals vs. vending machine items and easy accessibility to fast food restaurants as concerns at school. Learning more about the PA and food environments is a fundamental step to develop effective and innovative, environmental strategies to address unhealthy weight-related behaviors in this population.