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Focus Groups Explore Black Women's Thoughts on Diet and Exercise
Among Black women in the United States, 65.8 percent are overweight or obese.* This raises an important questionwhat are the factors that influence diet and the level of physical activity among Black women? To explore their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, NIDDKs Weight-control Information Network (WIN) conducted three focus groups with Black women living in Washington, DC, in May 2000.
The groups were made up of eight to 12 women in each of three age ranges: 18 to 30, 31 to 50, and 51 to 60. All participants had incomes of $50,000 or below, and none were employed in the health or medical fields. Each group looked at the womens perceptions of healthy eating and physical activity, explored their current diet and activity levels, and identified perceived benefits of and barriers to healthy eating and physical activity.
The focus groups provided information that WIN will use in developing materials and activities for its Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better program. Sisters Together is a media-based program designed to encourage Black women ages 18 and over to maintain a healthy weight by becoming more physically active and eating healthier foods. The program, piloted in Boston from 1995 to 1998, is being expanded nationally.
To be effective, health education and promotion efforts must address the needs and interests of their intended audience. These focus groups showed that, even though many Black women are knowledgeable about nutrition and the benefits of physical activity, more culturally specific efforts are needed to encourage Black women to take better care of themselves and their families.
To learn more about Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better, visit www.niddk.nih.gov/health/nutrit/sisters/sisters.htm. s
* Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, The Evidence Report, NIH Publication No. 98-4083, September 1998: 1.
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