An Examination of Postpartum African American Adolescents' Sociocultural Beliefs, Perceptions of Body Weight, and Weight Control Behaviors

By Phillips, Thelma | ABNF Journal, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

An Examination of Postpartum African American Adolescents' Sociocultural Beliefs, Perceptions of Body Weight, and Weight Control Behaviors


Phillips, Thelma, ABNF Journal


Obesity is a public health problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States; more than 300,000 deaths each year are associated with it (Blixen, Singh, & Thacker, 2006; CDC, 2008a). Currently, more than 50% of the U.S. population is at least overweight, and approximately 20% are extremely obese (CDC, 2008b). Within the next decade, the escalating rate of obesity is expected to cost our health care system over 237 million dollars (National Institutes of Health, 2011).

The rising cost of obesity provides a rationale for critically examining the weight retention of women after childbirth. Childbearing is a causative factor in obesity, as women may gain weight, become overweight, or even obese by failing to lose weight gained during their pregnancy (Davis, Stange, & Horwitz, 2010; Groth & David, 2008; Kinnunen et al., 2007; Sarwer, Allison, Gibbons, Markowitz, & Nelson, 2006; Siega-Riz et al., 2009). In addition, subsequent pregnancies place these women at greater risk for retaining weight (Davis, Zyzanski, Olson, Stange, & Horwitz, 2009; Mottola, 2009; Setse et al., 2007). Studies have shown that pregnant women whose weight remained 14% to 20% above their pre-pregnancy weight during their postpartum period are at an elevated risk of developing later health problems (Davis & Olson, 2009; Walker, 2007). Subsequently, this weight retention places these young mothers at risk for morbidities and mortalities secondary to hypertension, diabetes, and other illnesses related to obesity (Gunderson, 2009; Kinnunen et al., 2007; Mottola, 2009; Schmitt, Nicholson, & Schmitt, 2007). Moreover, postpartum African American women have been acknowledged among other ethnic groups as having the highest risk for postpartum weight retention (Carter-Edwards et al" 2008; Davis, et al., 2009; Vaughan, Sacco, & Beckstead, 2008).

African American adolescent mothers are at the greatest risk of any ethnic group for retaining weight gained during pregnancy (Briley, 2006; Davis & Olson, 2009; Groth, 2007; Haire-Joshu, Schwartz, Budd, Yount, & Lapka, 2010; Thame, Jackson, Manswell, Osmond, & Antoine, 2009). Studies have shown that multiple factors contribute to postpartum weight retention among these adolescents (Blixen et al., 2006; Groth & David, 2008). However, few, if any, studies have addressed the sociocultural beliefs and perceptions of body weight that influence weight control behaviors relevant to postpartum weight reduction in African American adolescent mothers , ages 13 to 19.

LITERATURE SEARCH

Electronic searches were conducted using the following databases: CINAHL PLUS, JSTOR (Arts & Science I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and VII Collections), ScienceDirect, and PubMed, as well as the references in the selected studies reviewed. Thus, 236 studies were located using the key words 'postpartum and weight retention.' 'Sociocultural or neighborhood' and 'teenagers or adolescents' and 'perception' and 'body image' and 'African American' located five studies. Searching 'postpartum and weight control' located 44 studies for a total of 285. After reviewing all the abstracts, 31 studies were excluded as outside the adolescent age range. Of the remaining 254 studies, 173 conducted between 2005 and 2010 met the inclusion criteria based on years of publication. Other criteria for the search were postpartum African American weight retention, sociocultural beliefs, perceptions of body weight, and weight control behaviors. However, 135 studies were excluded because of ethnicity, age group, or type of intervention. Finally, 35 studies were chosen that met all the inclusion criteria, although only 4 addressed postpartum African American adolescents (ages 13 to 19), perceptions of body weight, and postpartum weight control behaviors. Three qualitative studies were categorized by African American adolescent women's sociocultural beliefs and perceptions of body weight, influences on their weight-related health decisions, and weight control behaviors and interventions. …

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