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Cultural conflicts in the weight loss experience of overweight Latinos



In spite of the high prevalence of obesity in the Latino population, there is limited recent information that can be used by health-care providers to develop culturally appropriate weight loss strategies for this population. Therefore, we describe weight loss experiences, attitudes and barriers in overweight Latino adults.


Qualitative study using focus group methodology


Twenty-one overweight adults (body mass index 25, age 20 years) self-identified as Latinos.


Subjects participated in one of three focus groups. Reccurring themes within group discussions were identified by three independent investigators, one who was ethnicity concordant.


Themes included the presence of mixed messages when determining one's appropriate weight, with participants' desire to lose weight to be healthy (based on professional advice and personal experience) conflicting with the cultural idea that being overweight is healthy. Participants described discordance when adapting to the mainstream, leading to the loss of healthy traditional habits. Participants expressed interest in weight loss and familiarity with dieting and weight loss interventions. They desired culturally appropriate nutrition education and reassurance regarding healthy dieting from health-care providers. The importance of interactions with peers during education was another relevant theme, and participants were overwhelmingly positive about group education.


To improve health promotion for Latinos, cultural factors distinctive to this underserved population, and barriers they articulate, should be considered when developing weight loss interventions.

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This paper was supported in part by Grant #RR01070 to the General Clinical Research Center, HRSA Grant D11HP05206 and by EXPORT grant number 5P60MD000267. We thank the interviewees for their enthusiasm, insight and willingness to participate in this study. Muchas gracias.

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Correspondence to V A Diaz.

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Diaz, V., Mainous, A. & Pope, C. Cultural conflicts in the weight loss experience of overweight Latinos. Int J Obes 31, 328–333 (2007).

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