Background. Obesity rates among American children and adolescents have continually climbed over the past four decades. Obesity rates among minority populations are even greater. Adolescents are greatly influenced by their own perception of self and their perception of the world around them; therefore, self-perception and meaning are vital forces within the lives of adolescents. It is through this self-evaluation and social comparisons that adolescents become able to incorporate personal successes and failures into their own lives.
Purpose. The purpose of this study was to construct an explanatory model of obesity in 14-17 year-old African-American adolescent males, while focusing on self-perception and meaning associated with their obesity.
Methods. Van Manen’s conceptualization hermeneutic phenomenology was used to guide this study. Kleinman’s Explanatory Model of Illness served as the sensitizing framework.
Results. Results show obese African-American adolescent males lack a realistic perception of their weight status. Adolescents conveyed more of an emotional connection to their obesity than a physical connection. They did not see themselves as being different, but thought others viewed them as different. Relationships with peers and the negative aspects of those relationships elicited strong reactions, while the adolescents’ perception of limited or no control over situational influences kept them from taking personal responsibility for their obesity. Adolescents who lack understanding of their obesity are perhaps of greatest concern, as this may imply a disconnect from the reality of the situation. This may increase their risk for exacerbation of their obesity, making them less likely to have successful outcomes. Adverse health and social consequences can be effective motivators to behavior change; therefore, those with a negative understanding of their obesity, particularly in regard to health-related and social implications, are more likely to adhere to treatment and have successful outcomes.
Discussion. Explanatory models help the healthcare professional understand the adolescent’s experiences and ability to change behavior. Highlighting what adolescents regard as significant and meaningful and understanding the adolescent’s motivations and determinants of healthy behavior, will assist in understanding obesity uniquely from the obese African-American adolescent males perspective and will serve as a tool in the development of successful long-term intervention programs.
|Commitee:||Kennedy, Robert, McSweeney, Jean, Schmidt, Cheryl, Ward, Wendy|
|School:||University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences|
|School Location:||United States -- Arkansas|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, Nursing, Public health|
|Keywords:||Adolescents, African-American males, Explanatory models, Obesity|
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