Filipino women living in Canada: constructing meanings of body, food, and health

Health Care Women Int. Mar-Apr 1999;20(2):179-94. doi: 10.1080/073993399245872.


This qualitative study explored the understandings of body size, food and eating, and health held by Filipino women living in Canada. Women (n = 11) aged 19 to 30 years old who were born in the Philippines and living in British Columbia participated in individual interviews where they discussed their beliefs and practices relating to their body, food, and health. Informants' comments reflected contrasting "Canadian" and "Filipino" meanings. Canadian beliefs emphasized the desirability of thinness, "watching" intake of fat, rice, and junk food, and minimizing disease risk. Filipino beliefs valued fatness, "just eating" fat and rice, and maximizing disease resistance. While most informants appeared to have adopted the Canadian values, Filipino beliefs continued to be of some significance in their lives. These findings demonstrate the socially constructed nature of health beliefs and illustrate how members of a minority ethnic group negotiate among conflicting cultural beliefs about body size, food and health.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Body Constitution / ethnology*
  • Body Image*
  • British Columbia
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Feeding Behavior* / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Philippines / ethnology
  • Women's Health*