Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cultural approach holds the key to tackling obesity

26.04.2006


Health professionals need to use more than tape measures and scales to define and tackle obesity, according to a paper in the British-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.



A research review carried out by Maryanne Davidson from Yale University has discovered that many women don’t make the link between high weight and poor health and that culture plays a big role in how positively they see themselves.

She reviewed key papers published over a 10-year period to see how health professionals and Black and White American women define obesity and to identify differences in attitudes.


This revealed that while health professionals used quantitative methods, such as Body Mass Index measurements based on the height to weight ratio, women are more likely to base their ideal weight on cultural criteria.

“My review revealed that Black American participants defined obesity in positive terms, relating it to attractiveness, sexual desirability, body image, strength or goodness, self esteem and social acceptability” says Davidson. “In addition they didn’t view obesity as cause for concern when it came to their health.”

White Americans, on the other hand, expressed completely the opposite view.

“They defined obesity in negative terms, describing it as unattractive, not socially desirable, associated with negative body image and decreased self-esteem and being socially unacceptable.

“But when it came to the links between body weight and health, this group was much more likely to voice mixed views, with some expressing concern and others feeling that weight wasn’t a health issue.

Davidson also discovered variations in how health professionals define obesity.

“Although most of them use the Body Mass Index to actually measure obesity, we found different views about what level of BMI constitutes normal weight and what level indicates obesity“ she says.

“I’m glad to say that that situation is changing and there is a move towards standardised measurement of what is obese and what is overweight. For example the International Obesity Task Force is helping to address the need for a global objective measurement based on BMI.”

The findings provide a real challenge for healthcare professions.

“These differences could pose substantial threats to communication and understanding between healthcare providers and their patients. That’s why it is so important that obesity is approached in a culturally sensitive way, rather than just using quantitative measures like the Body Mass Index.”

People have been obsessed with their weight since records began, says Davidson, who points out that the Spartans reportedly ostracised a man for being too fat and Socrates danced every day to keep his weight within reason!

The concept of obesity in the United States appears to date back to the insurance industry, which published tables in 1912 defining average and acceptable weights for American adults.

These were updated in 1959 with average weight being replaced by ideal weight and obesity being defined as 20 per cent above this figure. That change put 40 per cent of American women in the seriously overweight category.

“Obesity is a major issue for health professionals as it is emerging as a worldwide healthcare epidemic” says Davidson. “The World Health Organization estimates that there are at least 300 million obese people worldwide and a further one billion who are overweight.

“It’s also clearly a cultural issue, as rates range from below five per cent in China, Japan and some African nations to more than 75 per cent in urban Samoa.

“Recent data also suggests that 54 per cent of adult Americans are overweight and that women of all cultures are particularly affected.

“Key health issues related to obesity include diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, asthma and some cancers.

“That’s why it’s imperative that researchers and healthcare providers understand how people from different cultures view obesity.

“This will help them to promote key messages about the health risks associated with excess weight in a culturally sensitive way.”

Annette Whibley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.journalofadvancednursing.com

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>